Celtic’s Summer Signings: Mid-season assessment – Joe Hart

With Celtic having had a nightmare in the goalkeeping department last season as the gloves were rotated regularly between Vasilis Barkas, Scott Bain and Conor Hazard, it was obvious that none of the trio were capable of being the Celtic number one going forward.

At the start of August new manager Ange Postecoglou tried to rectify the problem by bringing in a new goalkeeper, one with a ton of top level experience at club level and 75 caps for England on the international stage.

Joe Hart signed for Celtic on 3 August from Tottenham Hotspur on a three year contract for a fee believed to be just over £1m. Hart had spent the previous season at Spurs as the back up goalkeeper and made just 10 appearances in total, all of which were confined to the Europa League and the FA Cup. Hart was best known for his spell with Manchester City where he was hugely successful, winning the Premier League Golden Glove award on four occasions. He had amassed over 100 clean sheets during his time in the English top division.

On signing for Celtic, Hart spoke to Celtic TV explaining how he felt and what he can offer his new club.

“I’m really honoured to be here, it’s been a crazy couple of days but I’m really excited to get started.

“I want to bring everything that the football world’s thrown at me, I feel old saying this, but I turned pro when I was 17, so that’s 17 years ago.

“I’ve seen a lot been through a lot, lots of good, lots of bad, and the one thing that I want to bring is passion. I love football, I’d play football whether it was with my friends, or my son at home – I’m just so lucky that I’ve been able to play it on some serious stages.”

His new manager Ange Postecoglou was effusive in his praise for the experience his new signing will bring to the squad, he said:

“I wouldn’t have brought him in if I didn’t think he could contribute to the team. With Scotty and Barky in particular, I just think they had a really tough year, and having someone like Joe around will help them as well, because he’s a player who’s played at the highest level for a long time.

“He’s experienced the ups and downs of football and I think having an experienced player like him around will also assist those two.”

If I’m totally honest I wasn’t exhilarated when I heard that Ange Postecoglou thought Joe Hart was the answer to our goalkeeping woes. In my opinion Hart had been in a steady decline since about 2016 and the fact he struggled for game time at his last two clubs, Burnley and Tottenham, led me to believe he wasn’t the keeper he once was.

I also found it a strange one as Pep Guardiola, the manager who didn’t want him at Manchester City, dropped him because he lacked ability on the ball and I knew that Ange wanted his number 1 to be confident playing the ball out and contributing to our build up play, which made me confused as to why he wanted Joe Hart in this role.

Joe Hart Photo/Radek Petrasek CTK Photo

Hart made his debut two days after signing in a 4–2 away win against Czech side FK Jablonec in the Europa League, but appeared uncomfortable during the match, particularly during Celtic’s concession of a second goal. I was starting to think my initial thoughts on him were correct. Since then however Hart has completely changed my opinion on him.

Hart has been one of the most important signings under Ange Postecoglou, with the likes of former Celtic goalkeeper Pat Bonner even going as far as to say he’s been the best of the lot. With Kyogo and Jota bringing vast amounts of goals and assists to this Celtic team he has plenty of competition for that accolade but Bonnar could be right. Hart has been inspirational at times, pulling off world class saves at vital times in domestic competition and especially when he’s lined out in Europe.

Joe Hart Celtic is seen during the UEFA Europa League, 3rd qualifying round, match FK Jablonec vs Celtic Glasgow, on August 8, 2021, in Jablonec nad Nisou, Czech Republic. Radek Petrasek CTKPhoto

With the current Celtic side being so attack minded it’s been imperative that we have someone the team can trust in goals and in Joe Hart, his teammates certainly have that. Hart has a great rapport with the defence, communicating constantly with them and always on hand for a pass back if they get themselves in trouble. Barring a few shaky moments, which comes with the territory when playing the style of football the manger insists on, Hart has been excellent playing the ‘Sweeper Keeper’ role.

Hart’s experience as we get to the business end of the season will be invaluable. Having won two Premier League titles and played in multiple high pressured games in the latter stages of the Champions League and on the international stage, Hart will be a vital figure who can steer the less experienced players within our squad through difficult situations.

Joe Hartin action during the UEFA Europa League, 3rd qualifying round, match FK Jablonec vs Celtic Photo/Radek Petrasek

A wonderful signing who not only is a fantastic player on the pitch, but is someone who has completely bought into the club’s culture along the way. It’s a pleasure to see him prove all his doubters wrong as he exceeds all expectations at Celtic Park.

Long may it last.

Conall McGinty

About Author

Hailing from Cushendall in the North of Ireland my formative years were spent watching Celtic during our barren spell through the 90's which meant I have appreciated our recent trophy-laden spell even more. Favourite matches home and away I've attended has to be beating Man Utd 1-0 at Celtic Park and being with my 2 brothers watching us beat Lazio 2-1 in Rome. Best away day experience? Has to be Munich with friends from Coatbridge...what a few days!

1 Comment

  1. Tommy McQuillan on

    I agree that for all the great signings Ange has made Joe Hart could be the difference in winning the league or us being runners up. He’s been immense since he came in Conall he’s saved us points in the league and the Europa league too. All the credit normally goes to striker’s and attacking players but a good solid keeper can win you 10 to 15 points a season and frankly I was surprised that as many of our support were against the signing, you don’t become a bad keeper because you get older and I thought that the big fulla got a raw deal at Man City he was made a scapegoat in my humble opinion. The keepers at Torino, Burnley and Spurs must’ve been out of this world to keep him out, or his face didn’t fit. His ball control with his feet has improved no end and he’s always looking for the attacking option, it was his kick out that found Jamesy for our third goal against Leverkusen. Any other keeper might have just held onto the ball and ease the pressure but Joe had the vision to see what was ahead of him and we scored a wonderful goal against a top quality Bundesliga side. When the medals are given out in May and if we win the league then Joe will have certainly earned his, I’m glad we’ve got him as he reads the game exceptionally well. It’s something that keepers should have in their arsenal as the game’s all in front of them anyway but not every keeper has the skill or experience to do it but Joe does. I hope he doesn’t get injured as the options are abysmal.