Men's Team

Haaland attention not an issue for my squad, says Guardiola

Pep Guardiola says his players fully understand and accept the intense media focus on Erling Haaland.

Few players have had such an immediate impact on the English game, with the Norwegian youngster scoring 19 goals in his first 12 games for City.

As a result, Guardiola’s press conferences and post-match interviews have inevitably been dominated by questions about Haaland’s goal-scoring feats.

But the boss praised his squad’s humbleness, humility and team ethic, saying they accept and expect the reaction Haaland has had so far – and are just delighted to have him as a team-mate as we bid for more silverware this term. 

“Erling has to do his job,” said Pep.

“At every press conference there are 15 questions about Erling. I don't mind it. We are fortunate because the guys accept it perfectly.

“They are happy to have him because they know they can be better playing alongside him.

“This is why it is a joy to train these players”

As has been the case this season, the majority of press conference questions once again centred on Haaland – who added another two goals to his tally in the midweek win over FC Copenhagen.

Earlier this week, West Ham striker Michail Antonio and Newcastle United forward Callum Wilson predicted Haaland will smash the Premier League goals record on the latest episode of their Footballer's Football Podcast. 

Alan Shearer and Andy Cole share the record of 34 goals in a Premier League season, although both registered that figure in a 42-game campaign. 

Liverpool's Mo Salah, who bagged 32 in 2017/18, holds the record for the most scored in a 38-goal season. 

So, can Haaland break it and would it be good news for City? 

“Yeah, it would be good,” Pep said.

“Records can be broken. Callum and Michail Antonio maybe know it, I don't.

“If he continues this rhythm, he can, but who knows? After the FA Community Shield, people had a lot of doubt, now they have a lot of certainties.

“We just go there, and he tries to help us win the games.”

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The Catalan was then questioned as to whether he believed Haaland’s finishing could potentially be decisive in the Champions League knockout rounds – should City reach the next phase.

He agreed it was possible, but added it is only one of many different factors that need to fall into place for a successful campaign in Europe's elite knock-out competition. 

“If we play good and put a lot of balls into the box then, yeah, of course (he can make an impact),” said Pep.

“But who knows what will happen in the knockout phases?

“We saw the last Champions League games on Tuesday and Wednesday how many decisions were out of control of managers that were decisive in the result.”

There was no fresh injury news ahead of our clash with Southampton on Saturday, with Guardiola asked to provide an update on Kyle Walker’s progress.

“The same as the doctor said - he is out for a few weeks," Pep said. "Nothing further.

"It is too early to say whether he will be for the World Cup."

Premier League
1 Arsenal Arsenal Arsenal 28 22 3 3 66 26 40 69 WWWWW
2 Manchester City Manchester City Man City 27 19 4 4 67 25 42 61 WDWWW
3 Manchester United FC Manchester United Man United 26 15 5 6 41 35 6 50 DWWLD
Last updated: 19 March 2023


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