People out to get us, says Manchester City star Hart
A faint heart has not put Joe Hart where he is today so the prospect of providing an hour's coaching to Manchester City's academy players on skills including how to avoid “lifestyle distractions” is something he was prepared to put his hand up for yesterday, 48 hours before the Manchester derby.
The timing of this appearance carries some heavy irony, given that just a few weeks have passed since the goalkeeper's manager publicly questioned why he was found drinking in Marbella and then photographed drinking with Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson and Shay Given at a student party in St Andrews.
Hart is clearly not entirely happy with the welter of negative headlines which have haunted City heading into tomorrow's match.
“We're lucky because of the things that get written about us, only about 20 per cent are true,” he tells his young audience.
Hart admitted later that attending a stag event in Marbella 36 hours before Fabio Capello's squad gathered to face Montenegro — and then heading to Scotland for that day off before the first storm had entirely abated — were not the wisest decisions he had taken in his 23 years.
“It's difficult,” Hart said. “You could say that people who say [I should have kept a low profile after the first incident] would be right but at the same time I've always felt, professionally, that I'm totally 100 per cent ready for every training session I've performed in.
“I don't think you have to live like a monk. Naivety comes into it a little bit but you have got to learn fast as a footballer.”
The general delight taken by the world outside of east Manchester at the prospect of any indiscretion among Roberto Mancini's well remunerated stars has made the players feel more targeted than United's, Hart believes. “Yeah, people are out to get us. Not for everyone at the club but for most people getting those nice contracts, I think that's what comes with it.”
City have been characterised as pantomime villains and for once, tomorrow night, United will probably have more fans among the neutrals as City and Sir Alex Ferguson will characterise himself today as the manager whose currency is young talent, not petrodollars.
Hart added: “Obviously for Manchester United it was standard procedure for them to be winning titles and winning trophies six or seven years ago. But it's not quite that simple any more because there a lot of good teams out there, like ourselves, who would like to be included in that.”
You sense the presence of Carlos Tevez around the place will have left those, like Hart, who were outsiders a year ago in no doubt about what tomorrow evening means. But Hart's description of the Tevez brand of captaincy makes it clear that the Argentine is not a big dressing room talker.
“If he was that sort of character who [orders you about], then we wouldn't need a manager,” he says.
“He may not be giving big team-talks or speeches before the game, but he doesn't need to. He can carry a team and he can carry ten men. If we were stinking and Carlos played well, there's a good chance that we would win. I'd say he's the best player I have played with.”