Pep Guardiola fielded more questions about how quickly Erling Haaland has adapted to life at Man City; the Premier League-winning manager says players should take credit for teams’ successes over managers; Haaland faces former side Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes football managers are “overrated” when it comes to their influence on players as he fields more questions on how to cope with Erling Haaland in his team.
City’s new Norwegian hotshot has 12 goals in seven matches for the Premier League champions but Guardiola displayed his annoyance after their 4-0 win over Sevilla last week that Haaland’s team-mates wanted to give the ball too quickly to their new striker.
With Haaland now set for a quick reunion against his former club Borussia Dortmund in the second round of Champions League fixtures on Wednesday, the City manager – widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the game – believes football players’ level of intelligence is what defines results.
“It’s not what you have to do, it’s when you have to do it. That’s why football is so difficult,” Guardiola told his pre-match press conference ahead of the visit of Dortmund. “I said many times when we make the [analysis] videos and we pause it and say: ‘look guys, the space is there’ – this is fake.
“How you have to make the decision, how many times you do it: it only belongs to the players. I’ve said it many times: we, the managers, are overrated in our influence.
Haaland has 12 goals in seven matches for Man City so far this season
“The game belongs to them [the players], decisions have to be made and they can express [their game] and do it as many times as they want. You can miss it sometimes when the pass is on.”
Haaland became the fastest player to reach 10 Premier League goals earlier this month and his brace against Sevilla last week has many analysts wondering whether the 22-year-old’s influence will bring a first Champions League title to City.
But even though the Norwegian forward is already watching records tumble – barely a month after his professional City debut – Guardiola believes Haaland is not even at his best yet.
Manchester City’s Erling Haaland stands on the touchline Guardiola
“He’s young and hungry. Individually he can improve,” the City boss added. “He can be better, that’s for sure. The connection with his mates and timing will make him a better player.”
Those words were echoed by City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who assisted Haaland for his first City goal at West Ham last month.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” the German – who also joined City from Dortmund – said. “He’s doing great on the pitch but his character, attitude and determination off the pitch is something incredible.
“For such a young boy he’s very mature and his future is very bright. He’s going to show us a lot more, not just this season but in the next few years. The club signed an incredible player and person. Obviously having a proper No 9 and a striker who is physically strong is going to help us a lot.”
Asked if Haaland can be the difference for City in the Champions League, Gundogan said: “We will see. The Champions League is something incredible to achieve.
“It will be a very tough competition and little details can decide the outcome. We will try this season to go as far as possible and play a good role in this competition again.”