the irony surrounding the Erling Haaland scoring machine

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We still have to find it. This is what Pep Guardiola specifically said on Saturday, in a press conference after Manchester City’s defeat at Old Trafford (1-2) in the derby, about an Erling Braut Haaland (22) who is starting to raise a lot of questions in England. This may seem crazy to some, especially given the enormous statistics of the former Borussia Dortmund striker, who arrived last summer in exchange for a check for €60m: 27 goals in 24 games in all competitions, including 21 goals (and 3 assists) in 17 Premier League games. Cyborg blasts everything in its path.

Or almost. Because if he’s going to pile on the goals in the sky blue jersey, Erling Haaland needs to improve in his involvement in the game and in building actions. Especially in a formation that is used to having possession and thrives against relatively low blocks. Statistically, Manchester City creates fewer chances than last season on the field (35.7 expected goals against 42.3 xG in 2021-2022). A big difference can be explained by the presence of the Norwegian giant, whose first quality remains to be finished and whose profile, which at first glance hardly fits Guardiola’s philosophy, raised many questions when he signed for in the City.

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Haaland, a new profile for Man City

As with any addition to a roster, players need to get used to their new teammates, and new recruits need to get used to their new team’s style of play. For two years, Man City has become accustomed to playing the false No. 9, who stuck and traded a lot with the other two attackers on the wings. The Norwegian international clearly does not fit into this register. Against Manchester United, Haaland only handled 19 balls, with no space and no difference. On average, he has hit the leather just 24.8 times this season, compared to 54.9 for City players last term.

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If we look closely, we can see that the former BvB player handled 31% of his balls in the area and more than half of the times the ball was between his feet, he was on the axis of the field. Enough to confirm the stereotypical game of the impressive serial scorer with a ponytail. Former Sky Blues German international defensive midfielder Dietmar Hamann (71 games between 2006 and 2009) did not hesitate to say that ‘Man City is a better team without Haaland, even though he has scored 40 goals this season’while at the same stage of the season, in 2021-22, City had two more points (41) and occupied first place in the table.

An adaptation that is far from finished

It’s hard to be as categorical as he is, but it’s clear that learning to dominate with Haaland in his ranks should take some time for Pep Guardiola and his men, which isn’t rocket science and wondrous. The Catalan technician, who therefore made it clear that he expects more from his n°9 in the game, is convinced that his players will find their striker better in the coming weeks and wants to be optimistic for future.

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“If the inconsistencies in the game are related to the changes in Haaland’s presence? I would say the inconsistency is in the results, not the performance. We are consistent in our matches. Whether we play well or badly , we always have that opportunity. I think that’s our strength and we need to improve, but in terms of performance I think we’re consistent. » Mute for 3 games (against Chelsea then Manchester United in the league, and at Southampton, in the Carabao Cup, where he played only 34 minutes), Erling Haaland will have a chance to agree everyone this Thursday ( 9 pm), against Tottenham (last match on the 7th day of the PL).

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