Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Guardiola defends Haaland as crucial to Man City success after hat-trick heroics

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Jan 2023

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Pep Guardiola defended Erling Haaland’s position within Manchester City, arguing the Norway international is not holding his team back this term.

Haaland scored his fourth hat-trick of the Premier League season to blow past last term’s Golden Boot tally and reach 25 in Sunday’s 3-0 win over Wolves.

Despite his remarkable figures, City are playing catch-up in the title race as Arsenal continue to set the pace.

Some have pinpointed Haaland as a potential issue, with City sometimes adapting to suit his needs rather than vice-versa, but Guardiola knows the talisman’s quality.

“When we lost the Community Shield, all the debates were that he would not adapt to the Premier League,” he said.

“When we do not score goals, [people] say he is the problem in this team. We know his quality. We have to adapt some movements for him.

“He is not a player who will take the ball. He has to [have] the balls delivered around him. He’s got fantastic players around him. He lives 24 hours for his job.

“He’s not stressed much when it’s going well or when it’s going bad. His numbers are incredible. But the reality is still that we are behind.”

Guardiola issued a scathing attack upon his side’s commitment following their 4-2 win over Tottenham earlier this week, having been force to come from two goals down.

Reflecting on a more comfortable victory, the Spaniard acknowledged he had seen improvements, but stressed he would not be getting carried away yet.

“We spoke a little bit what we have to do with the ball,” he added. “Without the ball, we didn’t train anything because I would say we didn’t have energy.

“We talk a little bit these days about what we think we miss. It’s just one game. We will see in the future.

“Our football was really, really good. Today we improved. That was just today. We will see what happens in the next games.”

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