The debate around whether Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart should be ‘upgraded’ by manager Ange Postecoglou this summer is starting to pick up quite a bit of pace amongst suppoters.
His performances in our last two games has caused a lot of concern amongst Celtic supporters heading into next season, especially with one eye on the Champions League.
From what I’ve seen and read, fans are pretty divided on this, and even on Clyde Superscoreboard tonight they had one Celtic supporter come on to say he needs upgraded, with pundits Mavin Bartley and Roger Hannah agreeing with him, only for two other Celtic supporters to come on and basically say it was crazy to even suggest replacing Hart.
I have been going back and forth in my mind on this throughout the season, and after our Champions League campaign I was convinced that we needed a better keeper in goals.
As the season went on I softened to the idea of his seeing out the final year of his contact as our No.1 next season, but after his recent performances, I’ve changed my mind again.
Is it being harsh judging him based off of those last two performances considering how poor as a team we have been? Yes, I would say that’s a fair argument, although it’s also a fair argument to say we can’t just ignore how poor he’s been in these games either.
But what these last two games have done is reminded me how poor he was for us in the Champions League last season, and not only that, he was also poor in our Europa League campaign and qualifiers the previous season.
Yes, he is still capable of pulling off some great saves and keeping clean sheets domestically, but I don’t believe he’s good enough to consistently make the saves he needs to make. He isn’t going to secure us victories in the Champions League next season the likes of some of our past goalkeepers have done, the likes of Artur Boruc and Fraser Forster.
Those were Champions League level goalkeepers, guys that when teams we simply too good for us, we had a keeper in goals that rescued us.
Is it any coincidence that we qualified for the last 16 when we had both Forster and Boruc in goals for us? Of course it isn’t, because they were Champions League level keepers that didn’t just make the odd good save here or there, and keep clean sheets in the league, they actually secured us points on the biggest stage.
Joe Hart is just not that keeper, it’s harsh to say but it needs to be said if we are going to have an honest discussion about him.
He isn’t going to go to the Nou Camp and be a wall that they cannot score past, like Forster, he isn’t going to save last minute penalties to see us trough to the last 16 like Boruc against Man Utd.
We only need to look across the city at the mess they made of their goalkeeping situation.
Allan McGregor is still capable of pulling off some fantastic saves and keeping clean sheets domestically, but like Hart, he was letting in goals that he shouldn’t have been, the signs wee there and he was set to retire, all for him to change him mind and the club to give him another season as No.1 and look what happened.
With him in goals they conceded a record amount of goals and became the worst side in Champions League history.
They even tried to replace him during the season as No.1 but 2nd choice keeper Joe McLaughlin just happened to be even worse than McGregor, and that’s why he ended up staying as No.1.
With goalkeepers, especially at the age Hart is, 36, you do need to more pre-emptive compared to other positions, you cannot wait until they are totally done and letting in every shot that comes their way before realising you need to replace him, you need to spot the signs that he’s on his way out and get a more capable, better replacement in the door before it’s too late.
And I think that’s what Ange Postecoglou needs to do this summer.
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Hart is a good backup but we need a another younger top goalie