Man City players have been told to change the way they play to help Erling Haaland find his goalscoring shoes for his new club.
The Norwegian summer signing endured 90 minutes of frustration on his debut as City were beaten by rivals Liverpool in the Community Shield.
While Liverpool’s new £85m striker Darwin Nunez impressed and scored in the 3-1 victory, Haaland barely sniffled and capped off a tough game by missing a keeper in the closing stages.
Haaland had few chances to shoot, let alone score, and produced a wry half-smile after tossing the ball over the crossbar and over with an open goal at his mercy, despite looking very annoyed by himself after the final whistle as he watched the Reds. ‘ celebrations at King Power Stadium.
“He had chances, two or three in the first half and one at the end, and he’s still there,” Man City boss Pep Guardiola said of his performance, which saw Haaland do frequently dazzling runs to get in behind Liverpool’s back. -four, only for the ball to never come his way.
“He fought a lot and made the moves,” Guardiola continued. “It’s good for him to see the reality of a new country and a new league.
“He was there but today he didn’t score and another day he will score. He has incredible quality and he will.
“He’s only had two weeks, two and a half weeks, and I’m really comfortable with what we’ve seen since we arrived this season.
Diaz set to win Player of the Year and ‘hungry’ Liverpool tipped for title
Man City v Liverpool LIVE: Stunning Nunez leads Reds to glory as Haaland misses keeper
Nunez scores and Haaland misses as Liverpool beat Man City in Community Shield
Why isn’t the Community Shield at Wembley? Man City face Liverpool in curtain raiser
‘A physical monster’ – How much longer will Haaland and Van Dijk share respect?
Nunez in, Haaland ‘must start’ – line-ups planned for Man City vs Liverpool battle
“I am absolutely not concerned. The reality is that we have two or three months ahead of us. He will help us.
City have played their last two Premier League winning seasons without a traditional centre-forward, and it just wasn’t clicking for them, with even Kevin De Bruyne struggling to find Haaland in the areas he wanted.
It’s clear the striker and his new teammates aren’t on the same page yet, and Stuart Pearce told talkSPORT where they could improve.
But he thinks it could ‘take years’ for Haaland and City to integrate properly.
“I don’t think they used their centre-forward as well as they can, if I’m being honest,” said the former Man City boss, who was co-commentator on the curtain-raiser.
“I think if you asked Haaland at the end of the game, ‘Did they feed you as you would have liked’, he would probably say no. He wouldn’t be happy about that.
“He won’t feel the pressure. The kid is motivated, he has a father who has been in the game to guide him in a great way, I just think City need to find a way to get the best out of him, and I saw that today.
“They have to put the ball behind when he offers himself, and if they do that he will score more goals and they will be a better team for that.
“City have been very predictable and slow in their build on occasion, it’s just a little misunderstanding between the players and that will come the more they play on the training ground and in games.
“I think they will quickly understand that he needs him faster and earlier than the other centre-forwards they have had. It will come, I’m sure.
“I think it will take some time for him to settle in. Man City play in a slightly different way, they dominate the ball more than any team in England and the only thing the opposition do is deny you space behind.
“Haaland likes to have open spaces to run behind, I don’t know how much he will get in this county – the teams are very defensive and play very, very deep against a team like Man City.
“I will be interesting to see if he can adapt to that and the interaction between him and the players around him.
“There are a lot of smart players in this team who can feed him, but they definitely have to try to find him more than they have today because you know if he has chances he will score.
“It could take a year or a few years for Haaland to settle in properly.”