1st Team Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (25), Costel Pantilimon (25), Gunnar Nielsen (25)
Last year was about as good as it gets for Manchester City, but aside from bagging their first Premier League title, there were encouraging signs from the goalkeeping ranks. Joe Hart combined his ability with increased maturity and was duly voted into the PFA’s Team of the Season. There can be few arguments and his contributions were vital in what turned out to be the closest title race of the Premier League era. Prior to last year’s success, Hart had something of a tendency to lose concentration on occasion, but there was little evidence of the flaw last season.
Behind him is the sizeable presence of Costel Pantilimon. He was limited to appearances in the domestic cup competitions in his first season with the club, but he impressed on his handful of appearances and the loanee was signed up permanently in December of last year. Despite standing over two metres tall, he’s incredibly quick and agile and should Joe Hart be unavailable, he’s a more than able deputy. He lacks the experience of Hart, but based on ability alone, City fans won’t be too worried if he’s called into action. There was a timely reminder of the consistency he needs to achieve to truly challenge Hart in the Community Shield. Filling in for the injured first choice, his fumbling of a simple shot gifted Chelsea a goal. It wasn’t a costly error, but more a sign of how important Hart’s form is to City.
Gunnar Nielsen was actually released by the club at the end of the 2011-12 season, but with long time back-up, Stuart Taylor opting to leave on a free, the club moved quickly to re-sign the Faroe Islands international.
Interestingly, City have also been linked with a move for emerging star, Jack Butland. With Hart and Pantilimon at their disposal, you’d have to think it’s an unnecessary purchase, but if it was to happen, it would make City’s goalkeeping options very strong.