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PREMIER LEAGUE

Pep Guardiola responds to petition calling for Haaland to be kicked out of Premier League

Ahead of the weekend domestic game, the Manchester City manager was asked by a journalist what he thought about the signatories against his star.

Update:
Manchester City's Spanish manager Pep Guardiola celebrates after Manchester City's Norwegian striker Erling Haaland scored his team second goal during the UEFA Champions League group G football match between Manchester City and FC Copenhagen at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on October 5, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)
LINDSEY PARNABYAFP

Erling Haaland was a sensation before he moved to the Premier League, but there were still doubters out there. Those individuals have now all disappeared following an utterly stunning opening few weeks at Manchester City.

Yes, Pep Guardiola is at the helm. Yes, it is a highly talented squad that has dominated for much of the last few years. Yes, yes, we know how it was all put together so quickly. But there is no mistaking that the Norwegian is on a different level, already having scored the same number of hat-tricks in the English top flight as Cristiano Ronaldo (3) but in over 200 fewer games!

Pep fine with Haaland joke petition

So, with defenders struggling to contain the striker, and rival fans virtually giving up on winning anything this season (OK, so there’s always a few deluded Arsenal fans out there!), a tongue-in-cheek petition was set-up to get Haaland kicked out of the Premier League. It received a couple of million signatures!

“There’s even been a petition this week to get him banned from football ... saying it’s not fair for everybody else,” an accredited journalist put to Guardiola ahead of this weekend’s game against Southampton.

“As a joke, it’s good,” Pep replied simply after getting clarification about the actual question being asked of a professional coach, with a polite smile on his face.

Fortunately there were also some questions to and answers from one of the greatest ever managers in the game that gave us an actual understanding of what to expect from City this weekend. Here’s a flavour...

On Southamption game:

“I said so far you always worry about how we will react. There is no time to reflect on how we have done because there is a game every three days. Now we have Southampton. We struggle every season to try to control the game. We are ready tomorrow to do a good game. I expect a brave team so aggressive. So well organised they have a culture I like a lot but we have to maintain this momentum and create a good rhythm. It is an important match for us. We have no time for distractions. There is nothing much we can do, in three games we have to travel again.”

On Haaland form:

“It is not about disbelief. It is the fact that he has an incredible instinct. He has an incredible sense as a striker he goes one second before the ball arrives. These types of player, how can a manager teach him it is impossible. He is a natural. He did it Norway, Austria, he smells it. Thank you for choosing us, we are fortunate to have this talent.”

On team style:

“I tell the players offensively and defensively what is going to happen. Our attack has to play differently our defence has to play differently. The secret is that we have top players. I see us quite similar to last season. We have a guy up front who can unlock the game. Every few years we are a little bit better. In the Champions League we are in a dream position. We cannot forget that one team has been better than us. Arsenal have been better than us.”

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