Gary Neville identifies ‘compromise’ Erling Haaland must make for Man City & gives Champions League verdict
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Gary Neville has said Erling Haaland may have to ‘compromise’ if he and Manchester City are to become a ‘marriage made in heaven’.
The Norwegian netted his fourth Premier League hat-trick of the season on Sunday and moved onto 31 goals in all competitions. Yet, despite that, there were questions raised about his suitability to City’s team and Pep Guardiola’s style following the recent loss to Manchester United.
It has also been suggested that perhaps City function more efficiently as a team without Haaland. But the striker answered his critics in the perfect manner on Sunday, netting three as City beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 3-0 to maintain their five-point gap to leaders Arsenal.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Neville said Haaland may have to work as more of a collective if City are to get the best out of him, while the team might also need to adapt to the 22-year-old. “He could score 45 goals. I think this is something that has to work. I think City have to do better with him,” claimed the former full-back.
“They have to get used to him. I think this has to work from City’s point of view because he’s too good. If you can’t make that centre-forward work, it would be a failing on City and what they’re doing.
“I think it is working because he’s scored that many goals, but there seems to be a discomfort in getting used to how they have to play with him. Maybe he has to compromise. I remember Sergio Aguero maybe having to press a little bit more than he probably liked.
“Pep wants his front three to hunt and maybe Erling Haaland has to hunt a little bit more with his two wide players, maybe that’s a compromise he has to make. But maybe the wide players at City have to make that compromise where those little passes we’ve seen at times, those little diagonals - we seen them in the Champions League against Dortmund and the Premier League where [Kevin] De Bruyne has fed them into that back post. [Joao] Cancelo fed one into the back post - was that the Dortmund one?
“We’ve seen it can happen, they just have to get used to each other. It seemed to be a marriage made in heaven in that first five or six weeks. We’re maybe now going through a difficult patch but I think it will work in the end.”
Haaland’s arrival has also been seen in some quarters as the final piece of the jigsaw for City winning the Champions League, and Neville believes he will offer them something different in the latter stages of the competition.
“I think for the Champions League, you think about in the Bernabeu last year where City play well but they need someone to finish it, someone to scare those centre-backs - he will do that,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be overly worried if I was City, in fact, the opposite, I’d be excited what could happen. But there were ripples and rumours and feelings that the styles conflict a bit between what City have done and what Haaland requires, which is early delivery, counter attacking, space in front of him. City have possession so high and are so dominant with the ball that he’s only working in little three-yard, five-yard spaces.
“That’s why last week people said Harry Kane might be more suited to City than Haaland, because he works in those sorts of areas. Haaland needs more space. But City have Haaland and if I were them I wouldn’t swap him for anybody.”