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Expectations Part I : Joe Hart

Welcome to part one of a five part series that will serve as a preview of sorts for the upcoming 2013/13 season. New Manager, a new approach, new tactics and some welcome upgrades in the form of new signings means that the upcoming season should see City mount a more robust title challenge.

Part I is all about our #1 goalkeeper.

Joe Hart is a fine goalkeeper. It would be fair to place Hart in the upper echelon of PL goalkeepers which includes Cech, Mignolet and De Gea. We could argue about the names, but I think you get my point. Joe is very good, but that doesn't mean he is immune to criticism.

Sensational at times, especially in the Champions League hidings that we were subjected to. But at other times, Joe was beaten from distance and those poor goals against cost City points. The Sunderland away game sticks in my head. These fluctuations in form from game to game are to be expected.

Fluctuations from season to season happen too, and I think it may be fair to say that last season was a slight down year.

Champions League

This was a pretty detailed look at Joe's performance in the 2012/13 CL. I am not going to re-hash what I wrote back then. Joe was really good most of the time, but he let in a couple of soft goals he'd probably think he should of saved.

Let's now look at Hart's performance in the Premier League.

Premier League

These are Hart's saves and goals against in 2012/13 and it really is a tiny sample. The other problem here is that we don't have the have the strikers shooting position or the goalkeepers start position. So any conclusions drawn from a single seasons worth of location data would be useless.

Again we need to be wary of drawing conclusions, but this small sample appears to show that Joe had an issue with his low left hand side. It'd need so much more data to conclude this though. This is merely a small snap shot of what happened last term. We just don't know the intricate details of why it happened.

Looking at Hart's full time career save%

Save % Shot on Target Count
Man City S 12/13 69.6 112
Man City S 11/12 76.9 126
Man City S 10/11 77.0 144
Birmingham S 09/10 76.2 177

I have only included full seasons here. I didn't want to include the seasons where Hart split the minutes with Given or Isaakson or Schmeichel.

The above chart lists raw, un-regressed save% and it shows Hart's 2012/13 league campaign was a big step below his career save% as a starter. Assuming that playing on a team who's talent level doesn't vary wildly (City's doesn't) and that the 'quality' of shots against is pretty stable from season to season (we assume it is) then we can see a couple of things about Hart's performance last season in the Premier League:

  • It's below par when looking at his career as a starter.
  • Joe really needs to improve his save % and move back toward his career average.
  • If we were betting on predicting Hart's save% next term what would we say his save% would be? Would you say his level is a ~70% goalkeeper due to last years performance or would you bet that Hart's true level is at ~76%?
I would bet that Hart's raw save% improves next year and returns toward his career average. Hart needs to improve and at 26 years old has a huge amount of room and time in order to do so.

Hart's concentration needs to get better, as does his footwork, and this should solve some of the long range goals against. Overall, Man City are in possession of a fine goalkeeper and one who was outstanding in patches in the CL. Consistency and focus can be improved, but this is the same for nearly every goalkeeper. One below par season isn't indicative of a trend, it can be merely be that it is was one below par season.

I think we should anticipate a bounce back next year for a player who is a vital part of this new Man City.

Oh, and Just in case you are interested in this kind of thing! You tube works it's wonders. Just try and count how many of these top draw saves occurred in the Champions League.