Pep Guardiola: Links ‘unavoidable,’ says Manchester City’s Joe Hart

03:37 - Source: CNN
Man City 'dealing' with Pep speculation

Story highlights

Pep Guardiola could be heading to Man City

Spaniard set to leave Bayern Munich in May

Hart says City players aware of speculation

Keeper backs current boss Manuel Pellegrini

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Feb 1 following City’s appointment of Guardiola.

CNN —  

Pep Guardiola is the name on everybody’s lips when it comes to the next superstar manager arriving in the English Premier League – and it appears his impending arrival has got the Manchester City changing room talking.

In December, the 45-year-old announced his decision to leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and was widely expected to move to England – with City one of his possible destinations.

“It’s unavoidable, we all see it, we’re not stupid,” Joe Hart told CNN in an exclusive interview on the set of a magazine photo shoot last week – just days before City confirmed Guardiola will replace Manuel Pellegrini as manager at the Etihad.

“At the same time we accept that you hear stuff that is so totally not true everyday about each other or other people or people you know, so, there’s a lot of stuff around football, that’s why it’s such a successful sport and such a big business.

“All of us are in the mindset that stuff goes on around us but our goal is to win things and be involved in the moment.”

Guardiola’s availability inevitably increased the pressure on City manager Manuel Pellegrini, who led the club to the Premier League title in 2014.

“He’s very straight down the middle,” said Hart of City’s 62-year-old Chilean manager, who broke the news that he will be leaving at the end of this season in one of his weekly media conferences on February 1.

“He’s always said if we don’t play well as a team over certain period of time, we’ll be moved on, he’ll be moved on. That’s Manchester City, that’s how it works, that’s the club we’re at. I can’t talk for him but he seems to live in the moment.

“He’s constantly in contact with the people who matter and we’ve got titles to win so that’s more important on his mind.”

Hart was diplomatic in answering a question as to whether he would enjoy working under Guardiola, given his success at Barcelona – where he won where he won 14 major trophies in a four-year stint – and now Bayern Munich, with the German club on course for a third successive Bundesliga title under the Spaniard.

“I’m happy under the manager I’m with at the moment for both club and country,” said Hart referring to Pellegrini and Roy Hodgson, who leads the England national team.

“I’m pleased to work for them. I’m glad that they’ve picked me as their goalkeeper so I’m happy as I am.

“Pep has done some great things in the game and there’s some great managers in the game of football.

“I’m sure he’d be a pleasure to play under but right now I’m more than happy to play under Manuel and Roy.”

Hart was effusive in his praise of Pellegrini, with City sitting second in the Premier League three points behind leaders Leicester City and in the last 16 of the Champions League,

The England goalkeeper says Pellegrini’s man management and ability to be honest with his players has been key to effective relationships within the City squad.

When Hart was dropped from the first team after a poor run of form in 2014, he respected the Chilean’s decision even if it was frustrating at the time.

“It was difficult for me because I was costing the team points,” he said.

“Maybe it was a good decision, I respected it more because he made the decision, he told me what was going on, we stayed in constant contact with the integration back into the team.

“I had two options when it happened – to throw my toys out the pram and be disappointed or know I’ve got six or seven weeks where I can train more than I usually train, refocus, and have a little shake of my head and start again. “

That episode not only strengthened Hart as a player but as a person too.

He cites the patience and advice of Pellegrini as one of the reasons for his return to form and subsequent success.

“I think that’s the right style, for me,” Hart said of Pellegrini’s way of working.

“I’ve always worked with the respect factor that he’s the manager and I’m the player. No matter what I feel, I do what I’m told.

“We work together and work through it together and have got a good relationship.”

READ: Carlo Ancelotti to replace Pep Guardiola at Bayern