Pep Guardiola has admitted he must find a way of getting Erling Haaland more involved in the team build-up play, as Manchester City suffered a second consecutive loss on Saturday.
The Premier League champions were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United at Old Trafford, following on from last week’s disappointing 2-0 defeat to Southampton in the Carabao Cup. In both games Haaland failed to score, in addition to drawing a blank against Chelsea in his previous appearance.
The Norwegian is also struggling to have an influence in the team’s build-up play, with the forward registering the second-fewest touches of any starting player at Old Trafford - only Phil Foden had fewer, and he was replaced in the 57th minute. Haaland did drop deep on a few occasions to get the ball but failed to have a serious impact, while City’s outfield players also didn’t provide him with any major scoring chances.
It’s an issue Guardiola must address, and he was asked after the game whether he would like to see Haaland have more touches on the ball. “Yes,” he replied. “At the moment we have that process because when teams are sat in their 18-yard box it is more difficult, but we have to find him a little bit more, yes.”
“Today he had enough touches but it’s true that when you are looking at areas and you have to look at him. But we will do it,” Guardiola added.
Quizzed on which players hold the key to getting more out of Haaland, Guardiola responded: “Everyone. When we have the ball everyone is allowed to attack.
“They [United] defended well, so tight and Fred followed Kevin [De Bruyne] and the other one followed Bernardo so it was difficult. They made two good transitions in the first half and for the goal situation and one or two situations at the end.
“We were there all the time, I could recognise my team. That is all I can say. At Southampton…what is this? What is this team? But this was the opposite. I recognise my team from many many years ago.”
Next up for City it’s a home Premier League encounter against Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Hotspur on Thursday.