Guardiola wants Haaland to relax more

Guardiola wants Haaland to relax more
Erling Haaland in action during Manchester City's game with Everton

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has urged Erling Haaland to focus more on feeling relaxed than scoring goals.

City resume their Champions League defence on Tuesday at FC Copenhagen in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

Haaland recently returned from two months out through injury and Guardiola feels the prolific Norwegian has been preoccupied by quickly getting among the goals again.

“He is defined on goals, but it is not just scoring a goal,” Guardiola said.

“As much it’s how he is clapping, encouraging his mates and the first intense press. This is what we need from Erling.

“But we cannot forget he has been two months out. Back to the dynamic is not easy.

“He’s a huge competitor who wants to score goals. OK, we know that, so relax.

“If we don’t score today, or if he doesn’t score in 10 minutes, it’s OK. In the process he has to try because the team always wins when they overcome bad moments.”

Guardiola felt Saturday’s Premier League win against Everton was a good example, with Haaland having a quiet first half before scoring twice in the second half to secure the 2-0 win.

“Erling is young, playing in the most difficult position on the pitch surrounded by four or five players with minor space,” Guardiola added.

“In the first half maybe we didn’t have the special delivery players, like Kevin [de Bruyne] for example, who can find him.

“In that moment he has to be positive. When he scored a goal he reacted, but he doesn’t need to score because he helps us for many things.”

The City boss added: “It looks like I am complaining about Erling but it was in general. How many games did Erling play and how many goals? His body language is not a problem.

“If he doesn’t score tomorrow, the day after or next week, it’s not a big issue.”

Haaland was the top scorer in last season’s Champions League, finding the net 12 times as City won the trophy for the first time.

City will face an FC Copenhagen side who have not played for two months because of their winter break.

But Guardiola expects that to fire Copenhagen on rather than be an advantage for his side.

“I would say they are starving to compete and hungry and have full energy, fresh in legs and mind,” he said.

“I don’t know the rhythm but they have had lots of time to prepare for the game. Hopefully we can be in a good level to compete.”

Copenhagen finished ahead of Galatasaray and Manchester United in Group A to reach the knockout stage, so Guardiola will not take them lightly.

“It’s back to business in the competition but huge respect for the opponents,” Guardiola said. “It was not an easy group and they did really well in all the games.”

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