'Because of the nice contracts people are out to get us’ says Hart

Goalkeeper admits criticism of City has been difficult but that pain of last year's derby defeats hurts more

There's already one big job on the cards this week but a faint heart has not put Joe Hart where he is today, so the prospect of providing an hour's coaching to Manchester City's academy players on skills including how to avoid "lifestyle distractions" is something he was prepared to put his hand up for yesterday, 48 hours before the Manchester derby.



The timing of this appearance carries some heavy irony, given that just a few weeks have passed since the goalkeeper's manager publicly questioned why he was found drinking in Marbella and then photographed drinking with Gareth Barry, Adam Johnson and Shay Given at a student party in St Andrews.

Hart is clearly not entirely happy with the welter of negative headlines which have haunted City heading into tomorrow's match. "We're lucky because of the things that get written about us, only about 20 per cent are true," he tells his young audience.

But the drinking incidents are undisguisable and, when he had left the group of young players City consider so important to discuss those controversies publicly for the first time, Hart admitted as much. He said that attending a stag event in Marbella 36 hours before Fabio Capello's squad gathered to face Montenegro – and then heading to Scotland for that day off before the first storm had entirely abated – were not the wisest decisions he had taken in his 23 years.

"It's difficult," Hart says. "You could say that people who say [I should have kept a low profile after the first incident] would be right but at the same time I've always felt, professionally, that I'm totally 100 per cent ready for every training session I've performed in. I don't think you have to live like a monk. Naivety comes into it a little bit, but you have got learn fast as a footballer."

And even faster when you're a Manchester City player. The general delight taken by the world outside of east Manchester at the prospect of any indiscretion among Roberto Mancini's well remunerated stars has made the players feel more targeted that United's, Hart believes. "Yeah, people are out to get us," he reflects. "Not for everyone at the club but for most people getting those nice contracts, I think that's what comes with it."

It is harder to argue with this point than with Hart's reluctance to acknowledge that drinking to excess, rather than simply getting caught drinking to excess, is a mistake. City – from their chief executive, Garry Cook, to their highly paid players – have been characterised as pantomime villains by those who despise the attempt by the club's Abu Dhabi owners to buy their way to football's top table.

For once, tomorrow night United will probably have more supporters among the neutrals and Sir Alex Ferguson will characterise himself today as the manager whose currency is young talent, not petrodollars.

Hart is an articulate proponent of the view that challenging the established hegemony is City's right. "Obviously for Manchester United it was standard procedure for them to be winning titles and winning trophies six or seven years ago," he says. "But it's not quite that simple any more because there a lot of good teams out there, like ourselves, who would like to be included in that."

You sense the presence of Carlos Tevez around the place will have left those, like Hart, who were outsiders a year ago in no doubt about what tomorrow evening means. But Hart's description of the Tevez brand of captaincy – the most revealing we have had to date – makes it clear that the Argentine is not a big dressing-room talker, despite going toe-to-toe with Mancini in the dressing room halfway through last month's victory against Newcastle.

"If he was that sort of character who [orders you about], then we wouldn't need a manager," he says. "He may not be giving big team talks or speeches before the game, but he doesn't need to. He can carry a team and he can carry 10 men. If we were stinking on a Saturday and Carlos played well, there's a good chance that we would win. You would look to him in a game, not to give you a pep talk, but to win you a game. I'd say he's the best player I have played with."

The sessions Hart will be working on with the young players in the coming weeks, as part of an academy multiskills lifestyle programme which teaches them how to create a lifestyle conducive to succeeding at the top level and becoming role models, include "cultural awareness". That doesn't include setting off a pre-derby match war of words with, Ferguson so he desists from questioning why on earth the United manager allowed Tevez to leave for City in the first place. "He is one of the greatest managers that has ever lived, so if he decided that Carlos wasn't right for his club, then that's how it is."

But Hart's departure on loan to Birmingham City last season, which took him out of three incendiary last-minute defeats to United, has not deprived him of a desire for vengeance that you won't learn about in a life-skills coaching manual. "We owe them one," Hart says. "It was heartbreaking to watch [last season] and even if we'd won the previous four games 7-0, we'd still feel that we owe them one. That's just how it is. That's how it always will be and you can't move Manchester City and Manchester United."

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?