Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart admits the team’s performances have dropped below the minimum required recently but he denies they are suffering from a lack of leadership.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side were out-played in every department in the 2-0 defeat at Stoke in which Marko Arnautovic scored twice from assists from the excellent Xherdan Shaqiri and could easily have had a couple more at a windswept Britannia Stadium.
City’s defence have recorded just two clean sheets in the last 18 matches, after not conceding a goal in their opening five games of the season, and it is no coincidence the absence of captain Vincent Kompany to injury has affected their stability at the back.
But Hart, returning to the side after injury himself and captaining in the absence of Kompany, believes they have enough quality to cope without the influential Belgian.
“We’ve got a great squad and Vinny is a massive part of it but Nico (Otamendi), Martin (Demichelis) and Manga (Eliaquim Mangala – suspended for Stoke) are good centre-halves,” he told CityTV. “After a 2-0 loss it’s probably easy to say [Kompany was missed] but we’ll stick together as a squad, work for each other and get through this.”
A fourth away game without a win – and the third in a row on the road without a goal – has seen City overtaken by Leicester and Arsenal at the top of the Premier League.
Six games and 15 minutes without Kompany in the Premier League and Manchester City have conceded 15 goals. 8 games with Kompany, conceded 1
— Sammy Lee (@Sammy_Goal) December 5, 2015
Hart admits they have to raise their game, starting on Tuesday when they host Borussia Monchengladbach needing a win and a favour from Sevilla to top their Champions League group – from which they have already qualified – to give them a much-needed easier quarter-final draw.
“At the level we’re playing at, we need to turn out performances of seven out of 10 at least every week and rely on some players to produce eights and nines,” added the England international.
“That’s how we should be playing and we’re not. Credit to Stoke – I thought they deserved to win. Conditions were tough but that’s English football – I said before the game no-one would be able to walk of the pitch with an excuse. A few of the lads are feeling it from the amount of games we’re playing but that’s not an excuse.”