The Southampton game was the biggest game we’ve had for a few years. The difference between this game and Burnley and Swansea was that we had a go. Right from the start we were at it. Southampton have been woeful so it was important to get at them because it unsettled them.
And it could have been a lot more. I’ve only seen the highlights but my son watched it live and said we had so many more chances. We aren’t out of trouble yet but it was a pleasing performance. It will have taken a lot of pressure off the players and given them a confidence boost.
Joe Hart got his first clean sheet in his second Premier League game since the end of November but in all fairness, I probably could have kept a clean sheet as the Saints didn’t cause many problems. Having said that, he was still there, what he did, he did well. It’s all about confidence and it’s tough coming back into the side after such a long time out.
He also made a mistake for one of the goals against Burnley so that would have been on his mind coming into the game. When you are playing week in, week out shots like that are picked up quicker but coming in from the cold and being out of action for such a long time, these are the mistakes that can happen. I believe there’s not a lot between Adrian and Hart – either of them could be in goal between now and the end of the season.
I don’t know what this season has done for his England chances. He might not go – he was excluded from the recent England friendlies – but goalkeeper is the position that is probably causing Gareth Southgate more headaches than previous England managers. Hart has the experience. He’s been to World Cups and Gareth won’t want to take three unexperienced ‘keepers to Russia. He might start with Butland but I think he’ll have Hart there in case anything goes wrong.
I don’t have any issue with Butland having played for a struggling Stoke side that’s conceded lots of goals. When you play for a side where you’re not conceding a lot of goals or not doing a lot of work during matches, you could argue you are not at the top of your game. But just like Pickford at Sunderland last year, they were getting battered but he was putting in good performances and pundits were saying if it hadn’t been for him, they would have conceded even more goals.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens this summer – especially in light of the reports that Adrian could move back to Spain. We’ve got two very good ‘keepers at the moment but Hart is only on loan and could see himself back at Man City unless we want to make it a permanent move.
As for Adrian, does he bite the bullet and stay or look to get a move? The obvious move for him would be back to Spain. Adrian was in a similar situation last season with Darren Randolph and after Hart’s arrival, it was more of the case of who could get out first.
Neither Adrian or Hart has stamped themselves as our undisputed number one and this is why this situation is difficult. When I was playing, you’d have one goalkeeper who was the main man and a stand-in but today most clubs have two goalkeepers who can do the job.