MANCHESTER – Erling Haaland has settled well into his new role as Manchester City’s attacking spearhead but the Premier League club cannot rely on just him to win the Champions League, manager Pep Guardiola said on Monday.
The Norwegian striker has had a blistering start to his career in England’s top flight, scoring 10 goals in just six games – the earliest any player has reached double digits in the Premier League’s goal scoring charts.
He has also scored 23 times in the Champions League before his move to City but Guardiola said the 22-year-old cannot shoulder the burden alone as they get ready to face Sevilla in the group stage on Tuesday.
“If we rely all on Erling’s shoulders we don’t win the Champions League. We try to create chances for him to score goals. We convinced him to come here, we felt we didn’t have much strikers,” Guardiola told reporters.
“He tries to be involved in the way we play. He settles good like Julian (Alvarez) and other players. I understand everyone talks about Erling. But I have… five new players and it’s important they all settle “I hope we can help him but we don’t win just for Erling and don’t lose just for Erling. He has a special quality and might be able to solve some problems. If we don’t play good, we aren’t going to win games.”
However, Haaland’s team mate Rodri said the striker is the perfect type of player for a “tricky competition” like the Champions League.
“We know the player he is, not just in the Champions League but how he plays. He’s improving a lot, he’s trying to fit into the team,” he said. “You won’t always be in good moments (in the Champions League). You can pass it to him and he scores from nothing. Hopefully he continues in this sense.”
Guardiola confirmed defenders John Stones and Kyle Walker are both injured, saying he was unsure of their potential return dates.
“We are lucky the club gave me (new signing) Manuel Akanji otherwise we (would) be in real trouble,” Guardiola said.
“The club moved quick to bring in another player in this position. The history for John and Nathan (Ake), they aren’t quite reliable to play every week.
“It is what it is, mainly because of this incredible schedule for many years, the players cannot sustain it for a long time.” REUTERS