Erling Haaland horror show: Manchester City's star signing struggles against Liverpool
Erling Haaland struggled against Liverpool in the Community Shield
The Norwegian was poor in front of goal, missing a bagful of chances
Newly arrived, it will take time for the forward to bed in at Manchester City
Erling Haaland's Manchester City debut did not go to plan. Outshone by Liverpool's new arrival, Darwin Nunez, the hulking Norwegian flickered at the edges, failing to get his skin into the game. Whilst a minimal presence in City's build-up play, he got into scoring positions, spurning the bagful of chances that came his way. Embarrassingly, he struck the bar with the goal gaping- the Reds fans stood behind, breaking into howls of laughter.
In his brief but thrilling career, he's rarely had a moment for self-doubt, but at Citylunya, he'll find it in spades. As Guardiola replays the reels- as any right-minded manager would- expect the 21-year-old to cringe at his inefficacy. Take, for instance, the weak left-footed prod at Bernardo Silva's cross. Known for being ruthless in front of goal, it was an uncharacteristically tame effort.
Haaland was to blame for putting the skids on City's transitions. Holding onto the ball for a few seconds too many, he allowed Liverpool to fall into shape. It was emblematic early in the first half. Picking up the ball in midfield, he failed to spot an unmarked De Bruyne surging into space, instead laying it on Silva on the near side. The City no.9 was also guilty of being too one-footed, relying on his left foot, even when the angles favoured the right.
Despite his faults, it was clear how Haaland brings a different edge to the City side. Taking up positions in and around the box, as a classical centre-forward would, the tyro was a constant presence at the top-end of the pitch. If not for Adrian's quick reflexes, he might've had a confidence-affirming goal. Occupying the channel between Andy Robertson and Van Dijk, he received Silva's floated pass before hurtling towards the goal. Shrugging off Robertson's challenge, he was 1v1 with the goalie but failed to apply the finish. Shooting low and straight, he found Adrian's knees.
But Guardiola was unbothered by his new signing's profligacy. Speaking after the game, he was certain Haaland would get to grips soon:
“Always, he was there. He fought a lot and made the movements. It is good for him to see the reality in a new country and a new league but he was there. He didn’t score. He has incredible quality and he will do it. I’m not concerned or worried. I’d have been happy to win and him to score goals but the reality is we have 11 months ahead of us that are so intense – with the World Cup we [will soon] play every three days – and he is going to help us,” quotes the Guardian.
City begins their title defence with a trip to West Ham United. Against David Moyes' well-crafted unit, Haaland will look to put his Community Shield miseries behind him.