Our Croatian Boss Slaven Bilic has come to the public defence of Hammers keeper Joe Hart, stating in his Pre-Burnley Press Conference last Thursday that, “I think you fans in England don’t appreciate Hart”.
The keeper has come under scrutiny recently in the English Press over his recent performances in Italy and in an England Shirt, with huge pressure being provided by younger shot-stopper such as Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland.
Doubt over whether Hart should continue to be the England No1 was originally catalysed by poor performances and a string of mistakes at EURO 2016.
In the months that followed, new Manchester City Boss Pep Guardiola outcasted the former Shrewsbury man and sent him out on loan to Serie A side Torino.
Replacing Hart with Claudio Bravo and on his return to Manchester, Ederson, but the positive side of that for many is that it directly resulted in Hart’s current loan in East London.
However, the 30-year-old couldn’t escape the critics at The London Stadium after conceding ten goals in his first three Premier League appearances in Claret & Blue.
But, Bilic was having none of criticism for the England star when commenting about his recent performance in a decisive World Cup Qualifier against Slovenia,
“Hart was Man of the Match against Slovenia and you didn’t have that feeling from the Studio and from the Commentators, they were like “it was a penalty”, it wasn’t a penalty that simply wasn’t a penalty.
If it was another goalkeeper, no one would have said that it was a penalty”.
The incident that Bilic is referring to was, of course, a collision between Hart and Slovenian forward Josip Ilicic in the box as the striker ran in on goal in England’s 1-0 win at Wembley, but the Referee saw better of awarding a spot-kick.
The Croat went on to praise Hart for his role both on and off the pitch within the West Ham United team,
“The guy is brilliant, now I don’t mean just goalkeeper, the guy never slaughters anyone, he is doing his job and taking the bullets. He is there every time for years now, whether that is City, Torino or West Ham.
He is a great professional, stays every day after Training in the Gym and works hard”, Bilic continued, “He is always interested in the Squad, asking who is fit and who is not fit, encouraging and saying, “come on guys”, he is a top Pro”.
The former Croatia National Team Boss then finished by discussing what he thinks the future might hold for Hart as he proclaimed,
“We could talk about this all day, but I am talking about Joe Hart as a great Professional and a long-term England No1 goalkeeper, in The Euro’s and World Cup, I don’t remember many mistakes and I remember some great saves.
I remember a commanding presence and he was the same for ages at Manchester City, went to Torino and that team had a good season, came to West Ham, three clean sheets in his last four.
But, there is always a question mark around him and he takes that very well”.
So, with the clear backing of his Domestic Manager and Three Lions Boss Gareth Southgate, Hart is now poised to have a superb World Cup year, both in Claret & Blue this season and at Russia 2018.