Manchester (VG) Compared to the first eight games of last season, the number of big chances generated by Erling Braut Haaland was surprisingly weaker. Pep Guardiola just shrugs his shoulders.
VG confronted the Manchester City manager with statistics in the press conference ahead of Saturday’s match against Nottingham Forest.
– Oh. it is good. It’s a lot… I couldn’t sleep last night, Guardiola says when asked if the numbers worry him.
He scoffed and pulled a smiley face. Many journalists had to laugh at the city manager’s answer.
Then Guardiola gives the appropriate response. Haaland tops the English Premier League’s top scorers with seven goals in five matches.
But he also, according to statistics service Opta, converted 29 percent of big chances into goals through the first eight games of the season. This applies to all tournaments.
Last season, the percentage reached 60 percent.
-He’s had some amazing opportunities. He could have scored 14-15 goals already. But the debate will remain the same. The important thing, he says, is that “I have chances. The problem is when I don’t get the chances or the balls I want or when I’m in the wrong position.”
– Don’t criticize Erling too much. This is my advice. Criticize the defenders, the centre-backs, the coach, but never criticize a striker who has scored a lot of goals because he will. Guardiola says: You will feel you have to apologise.
Perhaps it’s no wonder he was full of questions for Haaland on Friday. Nine of those missed chances came in the league match against West Ham last Sunday and the Champions League match against Rod Stern on Tuesday.
Guardiola was asked, among other things, whether the Norwegian was as sharp in the first six weeks of this year’s season as last season.
The City manager pointed out that Haaland has size that makes finding rhythm in training work a little more difficult, especially since the team was on a long and demanding Asian tour this summer. But it is clear that things will improve.
-But it’s always there. He has scored a lot of goals in the past, he is doing so now, and he will do so in the future, this is Guardiola’s clear message.
He confirms that Haaland was in the same condition when he returned to training this summer as he was a year ago.
But for Guardiola, it’s all about giving things time and not getting injured, he says, before also being asked if he was surprised by the missed opportunities.
– It’s football. One day, we might create fewer chances, but we score three out of three. Phil had the quality to score, and of course Erling too (against West Ham and Rudi Stern). But we can’t go crazy if the score is 1-1. Finally, we know we can get flow on it.
Although Haaland missed and missed against Rod Stern last Tuesday, he provided a wonderful assist for his teammate Julian Alvarez.
Guardiola was finally asked if the Norwegian had succeeded in the same thing last year.
– Last year he had many assists. Erling is not afraid to shoot. And he ends if he gets the chance. But then (on Tuesday) they made the perfect choice. He’s not selfish.
– When he finishes and sees the goalkeeper, he first thinks about shooting himself, but he has the ability to understand that he can play for someone else at the last minute, the City manager boasts.
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