Belfast Telegraph

Joe Hart waits to find out if he'll be Manuel Pellegrini's No 1

By Sam Wallace

The Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini would give no assurances that Joe Hart will be his No 1 goalkeeper this season, having selected new Argentinian signing Willy Caballero for the club's Community Shield defeat to Arsenal at Wembley.

The Premier League champions were below par, especially in the first half, and Caballero's performance was by no means outstanding.

Afterwards, however, Pellegrini said that he did not have a first-choice goalkeeper as such and no positions were assured ahead of their opening first Premier League game of the new season, away to Newcastle United on Sunday.

At first Pellegrini said that Caballero had figured in yesterday's match because he had played more pre-season games.

"Joe Hart, James Milner, Silva, Yaya Touré and Edin Dzeko just arrived 10 days ago," he said. "The other players made the whole pre-season, doing 30 days' work so the most players that played today were players who made the whole pre-season."

However, when pushed on who his first choice goalkeeper was to be, Pellegrini said that he had not yet decided.

"All the 22 players we have in our squad must demonstrate who is No 1 in all positions. Joe finished last season playing very well," he said. "We will see next Sunday which players start for Newcastle."

Pellegrini was dismissive of the significance of the defeat, with so many players missing including Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, Pablo Zabaleta and new loan signing Frank Lampard.

"That was one game more for the pre-season," he said. "We have seven players who have just worked five days who were not considered for this game. We have another five players who just worked eight or nine days. I put the players who worked more in pre-season [into the team] and nothing more than that."

By contrast, Arsène Wenger said this was a game Arsenal could not afford to lose given their poor record against title contenders last season.

"That's why it was important for us today, not to lose the game. Last year we were not consistent against top six teams. The year before it was the reverse. It's hoped that this year it will be right on both sides."

Following the departure of Thomas Vermaelen to Barcelona, Wenger said that Mikel Arteta would be his new captain and Per Mertesacker the vice-captain. The Arsenal manager also praised the performance of Calum Chambers.

"I would've bought him anyway [even if Vermaelen had stayed], because he can play right-back, he can play centre-back and he can play central midfield.

"In my head he's among the best three centre-backs I have. If I can find another one I will do it, but to find another one of that quality will not be easy. It shows you that Vermaelen had the choice between two massive clubs."

Wenger added: "I felt we had the complete performance in the first half. In the second half our togetherness and the third goal got us through. We defended well. We lost the ball a bit more than in the first half, our movements were less fluent, but we kept the spirit and the organisation."

Belfast Telegraph


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