West Ham have brought in plenty of experience – and it could be the start of something, says Joe Hart, as he seeks to play at ‘the highest standard possible’
A dab of make-up cannot conceal the black eye Joe Hart is sporting as he walks into West Ham United’s press room and the topic is swiftly raised: have pre-season preparations at Rush Green taken an unsavoury turn? “Yeah, the induction was to have a fight with Andy [Carroll],” is the retort before the less sensational truth, that he had received a ball to the face while spreading to make a save, follows with appropriate haste.
If Hart had taken a punch he would probably have rolled with it. He will start his loan club’s opener at Old Trafford this afternoon, a year to the day since his absence from Pep Guardiola’s lineup against Sunderland made it abundantly clear that there would be little hope of a future under the current Manchester City regime, and he does not hide the fact his situation is imperfect. Last season’s hurriedly arranged spell at Torino was a means to an end; this summer, at 30 years old, he would have preferred to set down roots than be lent for another 12 months. City would have sold him for £25m but no bid was forthcoming; some players might have sulked but Hart is a pragmatist and, besides, the stakes were too high in a World Cup year. He took the temporary move that offered “the highest standard possible” and the challenge in east London was one he welcomed.