Joe Hart’s move from Manchester City to Torino has divided City fans. On one side are those who believe, no matter how compatible he is with Pep Guardiola’s football, a club icon deserves time to prove himself. On the other side are those who believe you must back a visionary like Pep, the man who ruthlessly culled Ronaldinho, Deco and Samuel Eto’o in order to forge his Barcelona squad, no matter what.
So, England’s number one begins a foreign adventure far from what he is used to. Torino is a club rich in heritage and with good prospects, but having finished 12th in Serie A last season, are not a top dog like Joe is used to playing for.
City fans had come to accept that Hart would be off this summer, but this move has taken everyone by surprise. What has the reaction been like in the Italian press?
Hart to Torino was thought to be a bizarre rumour at first, so it was a great surprise when it turned out to be true. English players don’t tend to move to Europe unless it’s for a huge club. He was greeted with enthusiasm and mobbed in the street, so that should boost his confidence no end. He can also be helped to settle by assistant manager Attilio Lombardo, who Hart will know well from Roberto Mancini’s time at City.
Will Hart significantly improve Torino and do you feel his game will suit their style of football?
Torino really did need a new keeper, as Padelli is a howler factory. He kicked the ball into his own net last season and is just awful with his feet, so Guardiola definitely wouldn’t like him!
What can Hart expect from his year at the club? They’re not the minnows everyone makes them out to be, are they?
Torino have more history than Man City. Never a lucky club, with the Superga air crash and bankruptcy, but proud and with passionate fans. Toro are in a way the Man City of Turin, as most fans are from within the town, whereas Juve fans tend to be from elsewhere. Even recently, Toro aren’t minnows. They were in the Europa League two years ago and tend to develop players before selling. Now the focus is shifting to keep star names a little longer. The ex Coach Giampiero Ventura now on the Italy bench.
Where does Hart rank among other Serie A keepers?
Serie A has a high standard of goalkeeping generally, so Hart must work to get into the top 3. Buffon is still the best, Handanovic wonderful, Donnarumma remarkable for 17, and then you have the unsung excellent shot stoppers like Consigli, Sportiello, Perin and Karnezis. Not to mention Reina and Szczesny, who bring experience and knowhow.
Do you believe the move will take the limelight off him? Would that be a good thing for his chances of retaining the no.1 spot in the England national team?
Hart will need time to adapt and that could be difficult, given that practically the entire Torino defence has changed this summer. He won’t get much protection but the move should give him an excellent chance of showing, or even reminding everyone what a good goalkeeper he is.