Manchester: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola smiled on Friday at jokey petitions calling for striker Erling Haaland to be banned for being too good and said the Norwegian had a natural goalscoring instinct that was impossible to teach.
Haaland has scored 14 of City’s 29 Premier League goals so far this season with hat-tricks in his last three home matches.
“What can I teach, be here or there one metre?” Guardiola told reporters ahead of a home match against Southampton on Saturday that could send City top.
“He has an incredible sense as a striker of where the ball is going to finish. He goes one second before the ball arrives there.
“He has this talent, this quality, it’s not about scoring goals. All the time, if it’s a deflection or a cross, he’s there.
“How can I as a manager teach him?… it’s impossible. It’s just complete instinct, it’s natural. He did it in Norway, in Austria, Germany, he’s doing it here. You don’t have to say anything.”
Talk of the season
Haaland, 22, has been the talk of the season in England, with joke petitions now popping up on social media for him to be banned because ‘he’s a robot’ or ‘it’s just not fair’.
“Erling Haaland is a serious problem. He shows up out of the blue, and consistently ruins the weekends of the hardworking people of this great nation,” declares one such petition on www.change.org City defender Aymeric Laporte even teased Haaland on Twitter with a screenshot of one mock petition in response to a tweet by the striker, who scored twice in a 5-0 Champions League defeat of FC Copenhagen on Wednesday.
Guardiola said Haaland would have a few weeks of vacation during the World Cup in Qatar, which starts on November 20, with Norway failing to qualify, and all the media attention on the striker was not a problem for the team.
“There are 15 questions about Erling at every press conference. For me it’s OK. We are fortunate because the guys who are here accept it perfectly,” he said.
“In other clubs there are people who would not like it. Here, people like Kevin (De Bruyne), who is an exceptional person ... he’s happy to have him because both know they can be better playing alongside (each other).
“The same for all of them. We don’t have the incredible players (going) like “Why do people talk about just him?” and it happens in many clubs. This is why it is a joy to watch or train these type of players.”