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FootballManchester City boss Guardiola says Haaland can improve areas of his game

Manchester City boss Guardiola says Haaland can improve areas of his game

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola agrees that Erling Haaland has areas of his game that require improvement, but insists that is the same for every player.

Haaland has come in for renewed criticism this week – most notably from Sky pundit Roy Keane, who claimed the Norway international resembled a “League Two player” in his build-up play – as the fall-out from his performance against Arsenal two weeks ago continued.

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Guardiola says former Borussia Dortmund star Haaland, 23, can get better, as can everyone else.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Luton Town at the Etihad, Guardiola said: “He’s a young player and in some departments he needs to improve.

“But that is like a player who is 33 years old who has margin to improve.

“Until you retire you can improve.”

Haaland, who has scored 30 goals in all competitions this season to follow on from 52 in his debut campaign in England, was again quiet in the 3-3 Champions League draw at Real Madrid in midweek but Guardiola believes that showed the difficulty of playing as a lone striker.

He added: “We scored three goals but he had two central defenders really close to him. It’s the most difficult position on the pitch. Every player has one player [marking them] but strikers have two central defenders.”

Haaland finished second in voting for the 2023 Ballon d’Or and asked what improvements he has to make to take the next step, Guardiola said: “Play more minutes, learn what you have to do, the gameplan…

“But the Ballon d’Or is not the target. The target is the Premier League, the Champions League, the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup. He did that. Would we have won five trophies last year without him? Not a chance.”

Key City midfielder Rodri suggested he needed a rest after the game in Madrid in midweek and Guardiola says he is willing to accommodate that request if possible.

He added: “If your player doesn’t want to play, he won’t play and another one will play. If he’s tired, that can happen, someone else will play.

“But it’s not just Rodri. I will have to rest central defenders but we don’t have them. If players get injured in friendly games…

City head into the weekend in third, a point behind Arsenal and Liverpool, with seven games to go.

They squeezed past Luton 2-1 in the league in December before an emphatic 6-2 FA Cup success in February.

Guardiola added: “The Premier League is so important and I expect a similar game to the one that we won in the league, rather than the FA Cup. We still have a month fighting for the title. We know the position we are in and we can’t drop points.”

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.
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