The Erling Haaland juggernaut keeps rolling, after he brought his tally to 19 goals off his first 12 matches for Manchester City. Here’s some jaw-dropping, awe-dripping numbers of the early goal glut.
Haaland scored two against FC Copenhagen to bulge his season’s pickings to 19 off 12 games. Teammate Jack Grealish revelled in his teammate’s extraordinary start at Man City, and told BT Sport after the match: “It’s unbelievable, I have never witnessed anything like it in my life.
For the first or second goal, I was just laughing because he is always there and is always finishing it. He is a pleasure to play with. When I was walking back after one of his goals their ‘keeper said something to me and I said what? He said, ‘this guy is not human’, and I said ‘yeah, you’re telling me!’ He is unbelievable and is a pleasure to be around, he is so humble and that isn’t just me bigging him up, that is the God’s honest truth and hopefully he can carry on this form and carry us to glory.” Man City crave the top honour in Europe, though they’ve won a fair bit in the Premiership prior to Haaland’s arrival.
Sports Bible quoted: “Haaland has now scored in nine consecutive appearances for Manchester City,” while Guardian. “Only three opposition sides – Liverpool, Bournemouth and the Serbia national team– have prevented Haaland from scoring at least once this season.”
Business insider cited: “In just eight matches for Manchester City, the 22-year-old striker had scored an astonishing 14 goals – including three consecutive hat tricks at the Etihad Stadium. Given his record for his previous club Borussia Dortmund – he scored 86 in 98 games for the German club – there were few that doubted Haaland would be able to produce in England.”
Haaland himself had told ESPN UK after the Man U downing hat-trick: “I’m not surprised I’m scoring goals, but the fact I’ve scored 14 goals in the beginning of the season, and we’re not in October yet – I didn’t expect that.”
The number of goals he had scored for his earlier side Dortmund, from inside the box. Business Insider noted: “Haaland scored all but two of his 76 Bundesliga goals from inside the box. He’s continued that trend for City, with only one of his 14 EPL goals coming from outside the area.” Quoting Premier League website stats, it continued that under Guardiola, City had scored a total of 488 goals from inside the box, prior to this season, plus more passes into the opponent’s box than any other team, as well as more crosses. FBREf puts the figure at 198 matches between the start of 2017-18 season and now, with a total of 2,849 passes into the opposition area, averaging easily a league-high 14.4 per game. “Haaland and City are a match made in soccer heaven,” BI concluded.
Note the exclamation, which comes on the back of a question mark. It’s the number of touches per goal – a diamond dug out of a coalmine.
“Haaland doesn’t need to touch the ball to score: A goal every 14 touches!” screamed the headline in French daily Marca. The revelation though came on the back of mining of stats, contrarily to back the criticism of the Norwegian forward, “for not being as involved in a game as some of his teammates.” Marca started: “Despite City’s possession based style of play, Haaland, according to statistics from Opta, has touched the ball just 132 times (22 on average per match) and provided 77 passes (12.8). For comparison, some of rivals such as Gabriel Jesus, Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane average 53.3, 47.6, and 41.8 touches per game respectively. There is a similar theme that emerges in Europe with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Robert Lewandowski averaging 64.5 and 48.5 touches per game respectively.”
Haaland had addressed the criticism previously, explaining: “People talk about how I don’t touch the ball enough, but I don’t care. I know what I have to do and what I’m going to keep doing. My dream is to touch the ball five times and score five goals.”
Real Madrid have stars popping out their eyes, and on either side of the Copenhagen carnage, reports swirled in Spain that a clause in the 22-year-old’s contract would give Real Madrid a free run at signing him as soon as 2024. Guardiola would have none of it: “It’s not true. He has not got a release clause for Real Madrid or any other team. The rumours and people talking, we cannot control it. I always worry about what we can control. What’s important is he has adapted really well, we have the feeling he is happy here. We will try with him and all of them who want to stay to make them happy. In the future, nobody knows, but he is happy, he has settled perfectly, he is incredibly loved and this is the most important thing.”
Haaland substituted at halftime drew gasps of concern about an injury after Cole Palmer walked in as one of 5 substitutions made, especially since he could’ve notched another hat-trick. But Guardiola had him pulled back, with an eye on Southampton apparently, a team Man City couldn’t beat last season. “He has played a lot of minutes,’ Of course Cole Palmer is an excellent player, I’m looking forward to him playing. If the game was tight Erling will continue to play but after that it is better to rest and think about Southampton, a team we were not able to beat last season. It is not about resting players. It’s about a squad of 20 players, not just 11. This was the best selection to win the game because we need the players everywhere in this tight, tight schedule,” was the Pep-talk.