Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has sounded a wake up call to England international goalkeeper Joe Hart ahead of the new season.
The Chilean manager also hinted that New York City loanee Frank Lampard and six other players involved in the knock-out stages of the 2014 World Cup will not be listed for Sunday’s Community Shield against Arsenal at Wembley.
Hart, 27, was dropped for seven Premier League games after a series of mistakes that culminated in a cheeky gaff in October, allowing Chelsea’s Fernando Torres to score a match-winner at Stamford Bridge. The goalkeeper later featured in two World Cup matches this summer, as England bow out in the group stages in Brazil.
The Premier League champions finally landed Argentinean goalkeeper Willy Caballero in their second attempt, following the club’s decision to allow Costel Pantilimon- Hart’s understudy in their successful 2013/14 league season- to join Sunderland this summer.
Having re-united with his former manager at previous club Malaga in July, Caballero could be immediately thrown into the thick of the English season curtain-raiser, but the 60-year-old manager is keeping his cards close to his chest.
“I will make the decision who will start against Arsenal, not only the goalkeeper, the whole team,” Pellegrini said.
“I have two No. 1 goalkeepers. “Willy is a very good goalkeeper, I know him from Malaga. I think he is very happy here. That is why I say we have a stronger squad than last year.
“I am sure Willy will be very important for us but I also continue thinking we have the best goalkeeper in England in Joe Hart. Top teams need two players for each position because we have to play so many games during the year.”
Spaniard Alvaro Negredo is set to miss Sunday’s ‘litmus test’ with a foot injury.
Lampard and ex-‘Gunner’ Bacary Sagna are among the list of eight players to sit out of the encounter, and the manager accepts as well not all of them will be ready for the club’s start of title defence at Newcastle United on Sunday, 17 August.
He admitted he need to take caution with Sergio Aguero, after the Argentine struggled to regain full fitness at the World Cup since picking up a muscle strain in his thigh in a group stage match against Nigeria.
“I think Sergio needs a very good pre-season,” Pellegrini said. That’s why for him it is very important to work two or three weeks intensely and then start playing. We hope this year he will not have injuries.”
The ex-Villareal and Real Madrid boss opined Man City’s summer signing of Lampard and Sagna were conducted in the best possible manner in response to recent comments from North London counterpart, Arsene Wenger.
The French boss has been critical of the ex-Chelsea midfielder’s loan move to the Etihad from City’s affiliate New York City, questioning if it were a boycott scheme out of the Financial Fair Play (FFP) sanctions the club received from Uefa in May. Wenger has subsequently suggested Sagna’s transfer from the Emirate Stadium at the end of his contract was “agreed a long time ago”.
Asked if he was contended that the arrival of both Lampard and Sagna were correct, Pellegrini said: “I think so.
Pellegrini added: “I think as managers we have enough problems with our own teams to be talking about other teams. The only thing I can say is that we have important restrictions about the money we can spend, and Frank Lampard was a free player- we didn’t spend any money in bringing him from New York City to Manchester City.”