Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has insisted that Erling Haaland will eventually go through a dry spell just like any other striker – despite his sensational start to life in England. The Norwegian forward has been in incredible form since making the move to the Etihad from Dortmund in the summer, scoring a barely believable 15 goals in nine matches so far in the Premier League.
That has included hat-tricks against Crystal Palace, Nottingham Forest and Manchester United, and this weekend Haaland will set his sights on adding to his tally against Liverpool when City travel to Anfield for a mouthwatering clash on Sunday.
Speaking ahead of the encounter, Guardiola admitted that even he had been left surprised by just how good Haaland has been – but warned that there could yet be tough times to come for the 22-year-old.
“The biggest challenge Erling had was to adapt here as quickly as possible – and it happened,” he said in his pre-match press conference. “He didn’t have any mates. It’s a different lifestyle here in England. In the beginning, this is the most important thing because then he can be himself.
“When a player arrives you always expect the best – and this guy has scored goals wherever he’s been. But I spoke with Erling to see if he was expecting the goals because so far his numbers are unbelievable.
“He’s been here for two or three months – and can still improve. Many bad moments are coming for sure – and in those moments he must say ‘it’s okay, now go for the next one’.
“We were surprised by his mentality. We know his skills, but how he behaves in the bad moments, in those situations. He will maybe go 20 minutes, not seeming to be involved in the game – but he is never out of the game. It is so difficult when you don’t touch the ball but then when it arrives you put it in the net.
“That’s because you always believe you’re in the process. When you have ability and you believe it’s always easier. Haaland is always there, saying ‘I will arrive, I will be there, I will score a goal’.”
Haaland was brought in partly as a replacement for City legend Sergio Aguero, who departed the club for Barcelona last summer, leaving a void up front. Despite his 260 goals in all competitions for City, Aguero never managed a goal at Anfield.
Haaland has already managed to bag one at the famous old stadium during his time at Dortmund, but speaking on Aguero’s struggles on Merseyside, Guardiola added: “It’s a question for Sergio to answer. But the fact is that it’s a football game, 11 against 11, and it is the same as any other game. If it is difficult to score at Anfield it’s because the opponent is difficult.
“It is not because of the stadium. I have never been in Anfield as a striker trying to score a goal, so I haven’t had that feeling.”