Erling Haaland could soon experience the other side of Pep Guardiola’s management at Man City

Sign up to Miguel Delaney’s Reading the Game newsletter sent straight to your inbox for free

Sign up to Miguel’s Delaney’s free weekly newsletter

Thanks for signing up to the
Football email

Erling Haaland has experienced part of Pep Guardiola’s management. He has seen the Manchester City boss customise his tactics to suit a signing, abandoning the use of a false nine that propelled his side to successive titles, bringing in a conventional centre-forward and enabling the Norwegian to score six goals in four games.

He has been lavished with praise – Guardiola said his new striker was “born” to score goals – albeit with inferences he can always improve.

But now he could see a different side of Guardiola: the cold, clinical decision-maker who can deny the disappointed a Pep talk to explain why they have been exiled from his side. That might not be Haaland’s fate yet: the City manager suggested his new recruit might be able to plough on until the World Cup gives him a break. “He is 22 years old, he’s young and recovers well. I think he is able to play quite regularly,” he said.

Equally a home game against promoted opposition, in Nottingham Forest, offers an opportunity to rotate ahead of potentially tougher tests against Sevilla and Tottenham next week.

And if bad news beckons for Haaland, and his chances of winning the Golden Boot, Guardiola might not cushion the blow. The Catalan can be ruthless with the omitted, leaving high-class footballers out of his team and in the dark alike.

Recommended



“I don’t explain the reasons for my decisions because I’m not going to convince them,” he said. “Some players understand it is part of it for everyone and the other ones never understand me. I know them all quite well and I can tell them of the reasons but the other ones I couldn’t care…. I don’t care.”

Perhaps that was a reference to the departed Raheem Sterling, who went public with his disappointment about being dropped, perhaps a warning to Haaland. Certainly Guardiola admitted his brutality can backfire when he sidelines the wrong players. “I’ve said many times I’m not perfect,” he added. “I make mistakes and I’m not perfect.”

But a reason to rest Haaland lies in the alternative. The Norwegian was City’s most heralded attacking arrival this summer, but not the only one.

Julian Alvarez’s move from River Plate was agreed in January. Unlike Haaland, he was the newcomer to score on his City bow, finding the net as a substitute in the Community Shield. His introduction to the Premier League has been gradual, with 57 minutes in three cameos, but he contributed to two goals in Saturday’s comeback win over Crystal Palace when Haaland’s hat-trick made him the headline act.

Guardiola sees him as the understudy to the No. 9. “Definitely when Erling doesn’t play, Julian is going to play,” he said. “I’m almost sure.” It helps that the Argentinian has exceeded his manager’s expectations. Haaland represented more of a known quantity than Alvarez.

“I knew him a little bit on TV and clips but I am surprised how good he is,” Guardiola said. “He’s so humble, always positive and every training session he gives everything. I like these type of players.” If those compliments brought reminders of the sold Gabriel Jesus, another whose attitude Guardiola invariably admired, Alvarez can share his fellow South American’s commitment to pressing.

“Julian is an exceptional player,” Guardiola said. “From day one, he’s wanted to do it well. We are all impressed for his pace, for his sense of goal, for his work ethic. He is so strong, fast, and has an incredible sense of goal, he reads the game really well and he has a margin to improve.”

Perhaps that margin for improvement is greater because Alvarez was not tested in the major European leagues. Haaland came from Borussia Dortmund, which can be a path to the Premier League. It is altogether rarer that players come straight from South America.

“When you buy a player from another country you never know how he is going to adapt,” Guardiola said. “It depends a lot of the time on the mentality and Julian from day one we saw that he didn’t want to miss the opportunity.” A teacher has found a willing pupil, even if the forward’s halting English means their lessons have to be conducted in their native Spanish. “The most important thing is that he is open to help all the time,” Guardiola said.

Recommended



Playing for River Plate means Alvarez is accustomed to pressure but it would be easy to be intimidated by the star-studded cast at the Etihad. Even as new team-mates help him settle, they also present a formidable barrier to a place in the side. “This group of players is extraordinary, so that’s why it’s not easy. When the guy is humble and has desire and has the wish to succeed, in the end it will happen.”

But if Alvarez can learn from Haaland, perhaps the Norwegian can turn to his deputy for advice if he looks at the teamsheet and, without warning, Guardiola has put him on the bench so he could turn to his other striking signing.

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

{{#verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}} {{^verifyErrors}} {{message}} {{/verifyErrors}}

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Source: Read Full Article