There was plenty of talk about Joe Hart ending his run of 22 league appearances without a clean sheet after Monday’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town.
The West Ham United goalkeeper celebrated a first domestic shutout since Torino’s goalless Serie A draw with Sassuolo on 8 January, but the man himself was happier to have picked up three Premier League points than kept the ball out of his net.
Indeed, Hart had just two saves to make, from Philip Billing and Steve Mounie, such was the level of performance put in by the ten outfield players in front of him.
“It was about time, too!” Hart smiled. “It’s football and there is always a chance something might happen, but I thought the defenders were fantastic and they protected me really well, so I didn’t really have much to do.
“In the league [I’d not kept a clean sheet for a while], but I’ve kept plenty for my country [including two for England in FIFA World Cup qualifiers in 2017]. I just want to make as many saves as I can and whether we keep a clean sheet or not, I’m not really interested as long as we win!
“I feel good. I’m excited to be here, I’m happy and I just want to keep improving.”
I just want to make as many saves as I can and whether we keep a clean sheet or not, I’m not really interested as long as we win!
Hart believes Monday’s victory proved the squad are united behind manager Slaven Bilic, who has faced speculation and pressure in the media after West Ham’s indifferent start to the Premier League season.
“We got a slice of luck for the goal, but it was coming,” he said. “I think Huddersfield were probably watching us in the previous games and were surprised by how strong and dynamic we were.
“We needed a performance, whether we won or not. We had a great turnout from the crowd and the performance was important. The result was obviously more important and to get the two together was nice.
“We’re a group and we stick together. He has a lot of faith in us and it was important that we stuck together in the game and got the result.”
Next up for Hart and company is a trip to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, where he will surely be tested by Tony Pulis’s more direct approach.
The goalkeeper has won on his last four trips to The Hawthorns, all with parent club Manchester City, and tasted victory in ten of his 12 appearances against the Baggies, but he knows the Hammers will not have it easy this weekend.
“It’s not going to be one for the football purists!” he observed. “It’s going to be a game full of heart and desire and the best team is going to win.”