Joe Hart believes that Manchester CityÔÇÖs attempt to defend their Premier League title has been undermined by too many draws and because Manchester United are a ÔÇ£killing machineÔÇØ relentlessly dispatching opponents. The City goalkeeper still promised to keep fighting to overhaul UnitedÔÇÖs 15-point advantage.
Manchester City have been held eight times in the league this season, including the concession of a late equaliser to Laurent Koscielny against Arsenal and being denied by some expert goalkeeping by Jussi Jaaskelainen at West Ham United, Petr Cech at Chelsea and Julio Cesar at Queens Park Rangers .
A far more ruthless force this season, Manchester United have drawn only twice and have been given impetus from the seasonÔÇÖs start by Robin van Persie, who has scored 19 times in the league. CityÔÇÖs closest is 12 by Edin Dzeko, a figure matched by UnitedÔÇÖs Wayne Rooney.
ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖve done well but weÔÇÖve been up against a killing machine that have kept turning out results no matter what,” Hart said. ÔÇ£Maybe weÔÇÖve drawn more than we would have liked to. It has not been a perfect season and it needs to be pretty perfect to win this league. ItÔÇÖs a tough league, itÔÇÖs hard to win games.
ÔÇ£Unfortunately when we do lose, United stretch that lead and it has been disappointing but weÔÇÖll keep going. We worked so hard to get that title we are never going to just give it away. IÔÇÖd imagine from the outside it looks that way but thatÔÇÖs just not the case.ÔÇØ
Currently on England duty, Hart has discussed the title race with United players at St GeorgeÔÇÖs Park.
ÔÇ£Of course. ItÔÇÖs not personal. What theyÔÇÖre doing is exactly what I want to be doing right now this year ÔÇô and vice versa last year. ThatÔÇÖs just how it is, same with the Chelsea boys, same with the Tottenham. We are all fighting for something but we are not fighting each other. We are fighting for our teams and our clubs and you have to be selfish in those terms.
ÔÇ£When you come away with England it has gone. We are playing for England and we are fighting for England. We are one here.ÔÇØ
The unity at the Etihad Stadium has been questioned this season, particularly when Roberto Mancini took the rare step for a manager of publicly criticising players like Hart. The goalkeeperÔÇÖs handling at Southampton upset Mancini, who talked of ÔÇ£too many mistakesÔÇØ by Hart.
ÔÇ£Everyone is going to have their opinion, you have to take it as best, the positives, for what you are trying to achieve and move on from there,ÔÇØ Hart replied diplomatically.
ÔÇ£He is free to do his press conferences as he feels and if he feels you are not up to it…ÔÇØ It was pointed out that the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson or Ars├¿ne Wenger would not criticise their players. ÔÇ£All managers have their different way of doing things,ÔÇØ Hart said.
He has been caught out this season, notably at St MaryÔÇÖs and also beaten at the near-post by SunderlandÔÇÖs Adam Johnson, but the 25-year-old has also given one of his best displays against Borussia Dortmund.
ÔÇ£That was probably one of my better games because in the teams I play in at the moment I donÔÇÖt come under the same sort of pressure as often so itÔÇÖs hard to have the outstanding games.
“Sometimes I can save it, sometimes not. Sometimes the ones that I should be saving havenÔÇÖt been saved.
ÔÇ£I donÔÇÖt want goals to go in past me ever but they do. If itÔÇÖs down to me or down to a great finish or a deflection, youÔÇÖve just got to think what you can do better and then train hard. IÔÇÖm working with the same appetite, the same hunger, the same love for the game, the same will to win.
ÔÇ£People are free to criticise or praise. IÔÇÖm never going to tell anyone what to say about me but at the same time I donÔÇÖt have to listen. IÔÇÖm pretty strong with how I feel about what I should and shouldnÔÇÖt have done.ÔÇØ
He has a strong support network, including family, advisers and goalkeeping coaches like England’s Dave Watson, his former Birmingham City mentor.
ÔÇ£IÔÇÖve got a few people around me. I keep them close. And I like to think IÔÇÖd be there in the same situation whenever they need me in their life. Then we move forward together.ÔÇØ
Hart objected to the suggestion that some of the criticism stemmed from raised expectations, that he was a victim of his own high standards.
ÔÇ£Victim? IÔÇÖm definitely not a victim,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£I love playing, I love training hard, I love playing hard and I love winning.ÔÇØ