” We have to find it some more. This is what Pep Guardiola said in particular on Saturday, at a press conference after Manchester City’s defeat at Old Trafford (1-2) in the derby, about a certain Erling Braut Haaland (22) who is starting to raise a lot of questions in England. This may seem crazy to some, especially given the monstrous 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. The Cyborg explodes everything in its path.
Or almost. Because if he stacks the goals in the sky blue jersey, Erling Haaland will have to progress in his participation in the game and in the construction of actions. Especially with a formation accustomed to having possession and evolving against rather low blocks. Statistically speaking, Manchester City creates fewer chances than last season on the field (35.7 expected goals against 42.3 xG in 2021-2022). A major difference can be explained by the presence of the Norwegian giant, whose first quality remains the finish and whose profile, which at first sight hardly fits Guardiola’s philosophy, raised many questions when he signed for City.
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 absorb their new team’s style of play. For two years, Man City had been used to playing with a false No. 9, which stalled and swapped a lot with the other two attackers on the wings. The Norwegian international obviously does not fit into this register. Against Manchester United, Haaland only touched 19 balls, creating no gap and making no difference. On average, he hits the leather just 24.8 times this season, compared to 54.9 for City players last season.
Taking a closer look, we see that the former BvB player touches 31% of his balls in the area and that more than half of the times he has the ball between his feet, he is in the axis of the field. Enough to confirm the stereotypical game of the imposing 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 were a better team without Haaland, even though he scores 40 goals this season’while at the same stage of the season, in 2021-22, City had two points more (41) and occupied first place in the table.
An adaptation far from over
Difficult to be as categorical as him, but it is clear that learning to dominate with Haaland in his ranks should take a little more time for Pep Guardiola and his people, which is not rocket science and amazing. The Catalan technician, who therefore made it clear that he expected more from his n°9 in the game, is convinced that his players will find their striker more in the coming weeks and wanted to be optimistic for the future.
“If the inconsistencies in the game are related to the changes with the presence of Haaland? I would say the inconsistency was in the results, not the performance. We have been consistent in our games. Whether we played well or badly, we always had that chance. 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 only played 34 minutes), Erling Haaland will have the opportunity to get everyone to agree this Thursday (9 p.m. ), against Tottenham (late match of the 7th day of PL).