Did Pellegrini play a masterstroke by dropping Joe Hart?

Manuel Pellegrini

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has looked a different goalkeeper since being dropped and then returning to the starting line-up.

The oldest trick in the book of football management, when a player isn't performing, is to drop them and restore them to the team later.

When handled correctly, it is also one of the simplest yet most effective tools a coach has at his disposal.

This season, Manuel Pellegrini seems to have offered us a classic example with Joe Hart. The Manchester City goalkeeper had been struggling for form, making high-profile errors both in the Premier League and Champions League earlier in the campaign.

His coach subsequently decided to rest him, provoking somewhat of a media frenzy. The decision was not fatal, however, as Pellegrini simply selected Hart in a few games, with everyone much the wiser.

With the England stopper's dip in confidence and performance levels, it was a simple call for Pellegrini to make. Yet it was one Roberto Mancini had chosen to ignore in the past, when Hart's first signs of faltering started to appear. It took some conviction.

Now, the 26-year-old is seemingly back to his best, rejuvenated from a couple of weeks on the sidelines and looking more motivated to cut the simple errors out of his game. That, of course, benefits both City and England.

But Hart isn't the only one to have come out stronger, either, with Costel Pantilimon a more experienced goalkeeper with a run of extended games to his name. Whenever Pellegrini needs to call on his deputy now - such as last night against West Ham - he knows he can select a goalkeeper who has already played several games this term.

So the advantages seem numerous. Drop your goalkeeper and, by bringing him back at the right time, everyone seems to be a winner.

Credit to Pellegrini: such straightforward man management is often hard to find at the top level.

image: © Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

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