Erling Haaland’s ‘selfish’ revelation proves Man City critics wrong in an instant – Joe Bray

It felt uncharacteristic for a player who has scored so many goals from exactly the position he declined to shoot: on the angle, about 10 yards out, having been played in on the shoulder of the defender. However, Haaland's latest interview as a City player has perhaps explained why he didn't shoot – and why he might not shoot in future.

It comes after weeks of questioning from fans and pundits outside of City, trying to convince themselves that Haaland won't continue his goal-a-game form from RB Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund. The main theory to support that hope has been that Haaland will need time to adapt to Pep Guardiola's patient build-up.

In fairness, his quiet performance vs Liverpool in the Community Shield showed signs that it will take time for him to adapt to City, and vice versa. On a few occasions, through-balls were just cut out or slightly misjudged, and on others, Haaland was making a run and the opportunity to play him in was ignored.

Both he and Pep Guardiola have said that those kinds of things will take time, and as long as he is getting in the positions to receive the ball, or put away chances, then there is something to work with. As Guardiola said defiantly, he's going to 'deny all the opinions and score goals' when it does click for him.

However, the evidence of one game, where Haaland was nowhere near fully fit and making his English debut, has been taken as proof that he will suddenly be a flop for the next five years by some external critics.

Maybe, then, those doubters shouldn't read his latest interview, where he spoke about remaining calm and relaxed on and off the pitch to deal with the immense pressure on him, as well as the joy of scoring goals. That led him to admit that he values assists as much as scoring – much to the surprise of record Premier League goalscorer Alan Shearer.

You want the team to be well-functioned, Haaland said. Its like a unit and so its really important to understand each other, to work hard together so you can achieve things together. As a striker, you have to be a bit selfish. But nothing makes me happier than playing in another player on an open goal and he scores. Nothing!

“And also when he plays to me an open goal. And this is something really important about being selfish. You have to do it in the right way and not too much. In the right situations, yes. But not too much.

Maybe that's why Haaland squared the ball against Bayern Munich after he had earlier been given an open goal to score his first Blues goal himself. It's a key trait of Guardiola's City sides, and many observers predicted that Haaland would score plenty by getting on the end of those cutbacks and square crosses along the six-yard box – but that he might be a little too selfish in a team full of players built to make chances for each other.

If he's prepared to provide those scoring opportunities, too, then that rubbishes any final doubts people may have had over his suitability for this side. Haaland may have been an all-action, traditional number nine at his previous clubs, but he clearly now has the intention to become a modern, all-round forward under Guardiola at City.

With a level head on his shoulders and an intense desire to better himself every day, with regular references to self-improvement in all aspects of his game, Haaland looks like a better match for City than they may have hoped for when they signed him.

After all the talking has been done about him in the build-up to his Premier League debut, now is the time for him to silence the doubters and send his own message on the pitch.


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