Pep Guardiola details unseen confrontation that’s put Haaland back in the goals

Pep Guardiola details unseen confrontation that's put Haaland back in the goals

Pep Guardiola has revealed how a kick up the backside put Erling Haaland back in the goals.

The Manchester City boss felt last season’s Golden Boot winner was beating himself up as the Premier League champions struggled to end Everton’s resistance at the weekend. But Guardiola gave Haaland a few choice words at the break – and the 23-year-old responded with a double as the Blues kept up the pressure at the top of the table.

City now step up their bid to retain the Champions League in Denmark – and Guardiola explained: “Erling is young, playing in the most difficult position on the pitch, surrounded by four or five players with minor space.

“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. He defines himself by goals but it is not just that. It’s about clapping, encouraging his mates and the first intense press.

“If he doesn’t score in 10 minutes, it’s okay. But in the process he has to try to be ‘let’s go’ because the team always wins when they overcome bad moments.

“There will be moments when we suffer. In those moments will we be sad and depressed or react? We cannot forget he has been two months out, which is a lot of time with a guy who is so tall. Back to being dynamic is not easy and he’s a huge competitor who wants to score goals. We know, so relax.”

Erling Haaland of Manchester City celebrates scoring against Everton

Erling Haaland of Manchester City celebrates scoring against Everton
Getty Images)

Erling Haaland and Pep Guardiola chat

It only came after a few choice half-time words from his manager

Haaland’s goals at the weekend were his first since returning from a stress fracture of his foot that sidelined him for two months.

Guardiola admitted he had been concerned with his team’s body language – but believes that City’s willingness to go through the pain barrier is what sets them apart.

He said: “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, it is the day after or next week. It’s not a big issue, let’s do it again – for him and everyone. Erling is so strong. He came to a team that had won two Premier Leagues but he adapted really well.

“I have an incredible group of players that embrace the new players. They don’t need two days to be part of the group, just one day.

“Erling felt it immediately. We never put pressure on him to have to score a goal, just be involved with what we have to do and the rest will come naturally.

“He coped perfectly because he’s so strong mentally. You see his numbers at his age, not even Messi or Cristiano (Ronaldo) had these numbers at his age.”

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Guardiola added: “We have to understand that in the opponents’ team every player has a mama and a papa so they deserve to play good.

“How you handle those moments is what defines a big team. This is what we have done in the past and we have to do it again.

“Body language is everything in life. You cannot be happy doing your job or improve. If you are not positive in your mind and accept you can make a mistake and accept you mate can make mistakes.

“These things are far beyond tactics. It is everything in life. If you don’t train with a big smile thinking you can do better and help, you cannot improve.

“During the season there are moments like that and people get frustrated. But they understand that sometimes the game doesn’t work, it’s how you face the problem to overcome it immediately. There are always gaps to improve.”

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