Brilliant Haaland big reason for Man City’s 3rd straight Premier League title
MANCHESTER, England – Erling Haaland arrived at Manchester City nearly a year ago to questions about how a “battering ram” of a centre-forward would fit into mastermind manager Pep Guardiola’s nuanced and tactically demanding style.
But Haaland has since bulldozed his way to several scoring records – and past countless defenders – in an astonishing debut campaign.
The striker has quickly become the face of team and a major reason the treble-chasers captured their third consecutive Premier League title on Saturday.
While teamwork is City’s cornerstone, the 22-year-old Norwegian international has claimed numerous individual records that Guardiola has called “scary.”
He owns the record for goals scored in a single Premier League season with 36, breaking the previous mark set by Andy Cole and Alan Shearer that had stood for nearly three decades and was from more games.
His 52 goals across all competitions this season had people looking back almost a century as Dixie Dean’s 63 for Everton in 1927/28 briefly looked under threat.
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville recently described Haaland as “truly unique,” calling the hulking forward a combination of Harry Kane, Wayne Rooney and Brazil’s Ronaldo at their best with Kane’s finishing touch, Rooney’s power and Ronaldo’s explosion.
While City have long garnered praise for the brilliance of their passing, possession and patience in creating chances, Haaland, former England defender Neville said, brought something new, a “battering ram” of a striker with a superb finish.
“Haaland is a world star, who has come as a world star and is performing like a world star,” Neville said on his podcast earlier this season.
He has certainly proven Neville right, finding the net in dozens of different ways, from all angles – and making it look ridiculously easy.
City is on the cusp of a dream treble, with a spot in the FA Cup final on June 3 versus Manchester United, the only other English team to achieve it, and earlier this week produced a performance for the ages to demolish Real Madrid and reach the Champions League final against Inter Milan on June 10.
While Haaland was largely shackled in the first leg of the semi-final against Real and had good efforts turned away by goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the second, he has penned his name alongside some Champions League records as well.
He scored five goals against RB Leipzig in March, joining Luiz Adriano (2014) and Lionel Messi (2012) as the only five-goal performances in the competition.
His haul that night made him the youngest player to reach 30 Champions League goals and he now has 33 in 25 games.
In that same match, Haaland broke Tommy Johnson’s 94-year-old record for most City goals in a single season.
His exploits also led to the Norwegian claiming a record 82% of the votes to win the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year award.
And Haaland – who has been nicknamed “Daemon” by teammates for his striking resemblance to similarly blonde and long-haired “House of the Dragon” character Daemon Targaryen – is only getting started.
Neville said Haaland has hardly scratched the surface of his goalscoring potential.
“We’ve barely seen him for half an hour, his teammates ignore most of his runs,” Neville said. “If they didn’t do that then he really would be dangerous.”