Pep Guardiola has taken responsibility for Erling Haaland’s recent scoring blip, but is relishing the challenge of getting both the striker and his Manchester City side firing again.
Haaland is on his longest run without finding the net since joining City from Borussia Dortmund ahead of the 2022-23 season, having failed to score in three straight games.
He netted 27 goals in his first 21 matches, breaking a number of records along the way, but failed to get a shot on target against Chelsea, Southampton or Manchester United.
Rather than focus on what Haaland is doing wrong all of a sudden, however, Guardiola says it is on him to ensure the prolific striker is being supplied by his team-mates.
“We have our game, we have our principles but the way we played in last two games didn’t help Erling to score,” Guardiola said.
“In the build-up you can be wider, but in the final third you have to have players in the middle. If Erling is not there, we are not going to score goals.
“In the past we have always had incredible movements in the final third, in the small spaces. Now, in the last two games, we haven’t had it.
“I would say it was my fault. I didn’t make them understand the way we have to attack. We need runners, not just Erling.
“If we had just Erling he would be controlled by two or three central defenders. We need more players in those positions, definitely. We have done it. We have to do it more often.”
Only once has Haaland gone more than three league games without scoring across three years with Dortmund and City – a run of five between March and April last season.
The 22-year-old’s slight dip in form has coincided with a tough run for City, who have lost back-to-back matches ahead of facing Tottenham in the Premier League on Thursday.
City, who are aiming to avoid a third straight home league game without a win for the first time since December 2016, trail Arsenal by eight points and cannot afford another slip-up.
“I prefer to be eight points in front but I like to handle this situation, I love it,” Guardiola added. “I have to find something to make the team better. I’m the man responsible.
“When the players don’t play good, if they don’t have the desire to do it, it is because something is wrong in my decisions. We have to find it.
“People don’t think about the memories, how good we were. When I die, people will talk about how good Pep was. That’s for sure.
“But since we are here, people expect us to perform well, win the games and try to find the way. Otherwise – Pep out.
“This is how our jobs work – and I want Pep in! I want to stay here, this is what I want, and for that we have to win games and be there in all the competitions.”
Despite exiting the EFL Cup to Southampton last week before letting a lead slip in their league loss at United, Guardiola insists his players are not struggling for motivation.
“The situation is that, by our standards, people believe and believe and oh… what’s happened? Why are City not on the top of league? But it can happen,” Guardiola said.
“The mentality – it’s not about that. You see the game against United or Chelsea, we play really well. The quality of the dressing room is exceptional. I don’t have doubts.”
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