Joe Hart is an imperfect solution to a problem that can’t be solved until the summer.

In order to evaluate this deal, and Celtic’s newest goalkeeper, that is the ground zero we must all agree on.

The websites, podcasts and commentators of the Celtic world will doubtless rhyme off their preferred choices. And you know what? They aren’t wrong.

However they aren’t for now. A good goalkeeper in the squad is worth two in the January window – Celtic have an unfamiliar unwillingness to pontificate and have arrived at the former Manchester City no.1.

Hart’s decline is difficult to explain. Do players, especially goalkeepers, simply “lose it”? The fundamentals of the position, from Man City to Torino, to West Ham and to Celtic, have remained the same. Why then, did he fail for some of these and not others?

Ultimately only Hart has the answers, but Celtic fans can find positivity if they look for it. Craig Gordon was a football commentator before the club took a chance, viewed through that prism, Hart has the opportunity to be a brilliant piece of business.

Where then, does the tactical style of the Celtic manager fit into this? The honest, slightly sour answer, is that these are not workable concerns for this current Celtic team. There are too many holes, tears and gashes throughout the club – in its current state, for Postecoglou to chase the unicorn of a perfect goalkeeper.

This is not to imply Hart is wholly out of place within this squad, his personality and experience are positives few contemporaries could offer. Mentally, Hart is without a doubt an Ange Postecoglou player – regardless of his legs and distribution following suit.

Hart has handled the troughs (if not the peaks) of his career with a rare grace, and has always espoused the importance of hard work and mentality as his performances have faltered.

With Brown, Ajer and (likely) Edouard removed from the squad, there is a vacuum of personality, responsibility and accountability within the Celtic changing room. Hart could well be the man to fix it.

Ultimately, and anticlimactically, this is a low-risk appointment. If Hart fails, then Celtic can cling to the fantasy that they own a £5m goalkeeper in Barkas who should (should) be more than adequate for the role. If Hart succeeds however, and follows in the footsteps of Gordon and Kolo Toure, then Celtic have solved one of their myriad issues with a promising acumen.

Declan Sutherland


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