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It’s the team’s fault when Haaland has an off day says Guardiola

Erling Haaland has netted an astonishing 32 goals in 32 games for City this season, but was unable to find the net in either of the team’s last two games.

Manchester City's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland looks on during the UEFA Champions League round of 16, first-leg football match between RB Leipzig and Manchester City in Leipzig, eastern Germany on February 22, 2023. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFP)

Pep Guardiola defended Erling Haaland’s recent run of form, and insists that it is the team who is at fault when the striker struggles to have an impact on a game.

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Having bagged an astonishing 32 goals in 32 games this season in all competitions for Manchester City, Haaland failed to score in the team’s last two outings - draws against Nottingham Forest and RB Leipzig. The Norwegian striker had just 22 touches in the Champions League Last 16 first leg in Germany, the lowest amount of any player on either side who completed 90 minutes.

Speaking ahead of City’s Premier League trip to Bournemouth, Guardiola said it was up to the rest of the team to seek out their star forward. “That is our fault, Erling has been impressive for us all season,” the Spanish coach told reporters. “I don’t need numbers or metrics, I know immediately after the game who has been involved and who has not. Yes, of course, it depends on us. We need to look for him a little more.”

Laporte and Stones

The City manager was unsure about the fitness of three first team players: Aymeric LaporteJohn Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, though while the latter could potentially be fit for Saturday’s game on the south coast, the two defenders remain more unlikely to feature.

Guardiola also explained his decision not to make any substitutions during Wednesday’s 1-1 draw in Leipzig, suggesting he had considered it at one point only for Josko Gvardiol’s equaliser to alter his thinking. It meant that City became the first team to make no substitutions in a Champions League game since Manchester United in October 2018 against Juventus. “I’m not concerned [about squad depth], Kevin was not there, Aymeric, John,” Guardiola added. “The second half I wanted to make a change, maybe Phil [Foden] or Julián [Álvarez] in a position close to Erling to be more aggressive, but after we conceded the goal we were good. When the situation is going more or less well I don’t like to change things around normally, when I don’t like what I see I will but I don’t like to move things around [for the sake of it].”

City are two points behind Arsenal in the Premier League title race, having played a game more, and just three ahead of United. Guardiola, a four-time Premier League winner, took the opportunity to offer a reminder that he was told English football would be more competitive than his previous jobs at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. “People told me when I arrived that the UK is different to Spain and Germany,” he said. “Fortunately [for me], for most years it was only a two-horse [title] race. Now, finally, there is more...”


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