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When Is the Right Time to Drop an Error-Prone Goalkeeper?

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With Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini finally making the decision to give under-fire goalkeeper Joe Hart a place on the bench in favour of City's number two choice, Costel Pantillimon, it raised a particularly interesting question. When is the right time to drop a first-choice keeper if he continues to make errors?

Confidence plays a big factor in the form of a shot-stopper and the ongoing scrutiny of every high-profile error a keeper makes will more often than not affect them in a negative way on the pitch. This was something England manager Roy Hodgson and Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini took note of when speaking about Hart in the aftermath of a publicised mistake a few weeks ago.

They both initially backed him to be their number one choice respectively, but should have been asked if they would ever consider taking him out of the starting lineup if he didn't cut out the costly errors - as Hart seemed to need the proverbial kick up the backside.

The man between the sticks needs to feel the backing of the players and manager around him in order to play with confidence, but there must come a time when it's right to give the keeper a rest if they aren't performing admirably.

Like with big-name strikers, managers seem to give them every opportunity to prove their worth before eventually dropping them and goalkeepers get even more of a chance - especially if they're as highly-rated as Joe Hart.

However, when a keeper is costing the side games due to his errors, surely that's enough of a reason to take them out of the side. Thanks to the media, dropping somebody of Joe Hart's calibre puts the club under the spotlight as well as the players involved, which makes managers more keen try to and get goalkeepers to play through their bad form.

Minds go back to David de Gea of Manchester United upon his debut season in 2011. The Spaniard lost his place to Anders Lindegaard mid-way through the campaign, but he eventually bounced back a number of months later to cement his spot as the number one keeper and was named in the Premier League Team of the Year last season.

The same can happen with Joe Hart if he's patient and willing to use this time out of the first-team positively. He must have the burning desire to be better if he wants a long-term future with the Citizens and as England's number one.

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