Erling Haaland must consistently deliver over the coming years to be considered a Premier League great, so says Les Ferdinand.
Haaland scored City’s second goal in a 3-0 win over West Ham on Wednesday, taking his total for the season to 51 across all competitions.
In the top flight alone, Haaland has now netted 35 times, seeing him break the Premier League record of 34, which had been held by Alan Shearer and Andrew Cole, albeit that duo hit those tallies over the course of a 42-game season.
According to Opta, Haaland’s league goals have come from an xG of 26, showing the brilliance of his finishing. Essentially, he has scored nine more goals than would have been anticipated given the quality of chances he has been provided with and the position from which he has been shooting.
35 – Erling Haaland has scored 35 Premier League goals this season, the most by a player in a single campaign in the English top-flight since Ron Davies in 1966-67 (37). Inevitable. pic.twitter.com/FaRiUbSsPi
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 3, 2023
According to Ferdinand, the next challenge for Haaland will be replicating his extraordinary form in seasons to come.
“It’s a bit early to say as these guys did it consistently over the years,” Ferdinand told Stats Perform.
“Haaland has done it this season and he’s been phenomenal this season, but he’ll get judged over what he does over the next X amount of years.
“I think a lot of strikers will say, you can have an exceptional year but can you repeat it, can you repeat it and can you repeat it?
“It looks like he can but until he’s done it, it’s hard to put him in that category of those great strikers. Although he’s having an absolutely phenomenal season this year.”
Asked what makes Haaland so special, Ferdinand said: “His pace, his power, his ability to score off his left foot, right foot, and head.
“You know, I always used to say Harry Kane, and so sorry to keep going back to Harry Kane but he’s current. I used to say he’s the complete centre-forward and Haaland is fast becoming that.”
And while Ferdinand is wary of labelling the Norwegian a Premier League great just yet, he sees no reason why the 22-year-old will not fulfil his potential.
“I think in the side that he’s playing in, if you looked at him from his [Borussia] Dortmund days, do you think he’s improved from there? I think he has,” Ferdinand added.
“I think with the manager and the coaching staff that they’ve got at Man City and the players that he’s playing with at the moment, you can’t not improve. I think the better quality of the player you play with, the better you become.
“It’ll certainly raise the bar for him. Because, as a centre-forward, once you’ve scored 20 goals the next season, you want to score 22, 24 or 25.
“You want to score as many as you can so [now] he’s broken the record of 34 he’ll be looking to beat the record that he sets. Then that’s the benchmark for people to try and get to.”
Erling Haaland: Record Breaker
Manchester City striker Erling Haaland has broken the goal record in a single Premier League season, but which top scorers has he beaten?
All the stats https://t.co/FSOCpNYOb1 pic.twitter.com/okiuujoRfc
— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) May 4, 2023
Indeed, Ferdinand does not feel Haaland will find matters more difficult next season.
“Looking at the way he plays, his attributes, and the team that he’s playing for, no. I really don’t,” he said.
When it came to offering advice on how defenders might stop Haaland, Ferdinand only had one idea.
“Kick him early doors, that’s what used to happen,” he quipped. “I mean, you can’t do that anymore.
“You’ve got to find a way, but like I said it’s so difficult because you’re playing against a City side where, okay Haaland is scoring all of these goals but there are goals throughout that team. So you say, ‘Right let’s go man-to-man on him.’ Then you’re leaving the door open for someone else to get in too, so he’s going to be so, so hard to stop.”
The next target in Haaland’s sights is Ron Davies’ 37-goal haul from the 1966-67 campaign.
Davies was the last player to net more than Haaland in a single season in the English top flight.
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