Published On: Thu, Aug 25th, 2016

Hart reflects on 'special night' with City as exit looms

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Joe Hart has described a dull 1-0 home win over Steaua Bucharest a “special night” as the match marked what could be his final game for Manchester City.

Since Pep Guardiola took the helm this summer, the undisputed City No. 1 for six years has cut a peripheral figure due to the Spaniard apparently seeking a goalkeeper who’s at greater ease in possession.

Hart was benched for the first three matches of the 2016-17 campaign, but returned to the first XI for the second leg of the Champions League play-off – where his team secured a 6-0 aggregate victory – much to the delight of his fans in the stands.

Related – Hart-wrenching: Why Guardiola dismissed England’s No. 1

“That was a really special night for me,” Hart reflected following what appeared to be an emotional farewell after the final whistle. “We all know there is a situation going on.

“This is a special place for me, I’ve made no secret of that. Situations occur in football. We are men and we get on with it.”

Through 10 years of service – pairing cash-stricken relegation battles with recent years of high spending and title challenges – Hart has established himself as a firm favourite. Guardiola understands that leaving the door open for Hart to move on is unpopular with large sections of the support, but stands by his ballsy verdict.

“Joe is still our player. I know he’s a legend for this club. It was a good night for everybody and Joe is included in that,” said Guardiola.

“I’m here to make decisions. I can’t deny what I feel. I was honest with Joe, the club, and myself and that’s what I try to do.

“I can completely understand if the fans are not happy. Joe did a lot with this club in the years he’s been, more than I have done.”

The Spaniard appears to have lined up a short-term replacement for Hart in 33-year-old Claudio Bravo, who could agree to a move on Thursday, with Willy Caballero then expected to continue his familiar role as deputy.

City next welcomes West Ham United to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, the tie posing a possible debut for Bravo.

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