Manchester City

Manchester City

Premier League • England

Erling Haaland ‘picked the wrong club’ as Jamie Carragher goes into depth on why Man City aren’t proving perfect match for striker

Erling Haaland, Man City striker, during Premier League game against Crystal Palace at Etihad

Jamie Carragher has claimed that Erling Haaland chose the wrong club when joining Manchester City in the summer, despite his impressive goalscoring exploits since.

Haaland drew a blank in Manchester City’s 1-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. In fact, he failed to manage a single touch in the opposition box. Therefore, further questions have been raised of how the reigning champions function with their summer signing.

Currently the top scorer in this season’s Premier League, Haaland has usually been delivering. But his arrival alone has not taken City to the next level as many believed it might.

It has always been in the back of City’s minds that their association with Haaland might not last until the end of his career. There is a feeling he could leave them for a different challenge in the future.

But now, Sky Sports pundit Carragher has explained why the Norway international maybe shouldn’t have chosen City to start with.

Carragher said on air after the match: “He was very frustrated and I’ve felt this even when he was scoring all his goals at the start of the season – he’s obviously still well ahead in the top goalscoring ranks – but I think we’ve only seen 60 percent of Erling Haaland.

“You think of that goal he scored at West Ham on the first game of the season, where there’s space in behind, he makes that run. Now I know that’s not there that often because of the way City play, but he’s come from a league and Borussia Dortmund where it’s a counter-attacking league and it’s end to end, and you see that blistering pace that he’s got. We don’t see it [now].

“And… he may have actually picked the wrong club, to actually get the best out of him.

“You’re laughing, but what I’m saying is, we’re not seeing everything of Erling Haaland. And Manchester City now, not because of Erling Haaland, we can say they’re a different team, but they’ve scored exactly the same amount of goals.

“He’s scored 25 league goals, but Manchester City as a team have scored the same amount of goals. But they’ve conceded more and it’s far easier to counter attack them as well.

“So they’re a different team, and a lesser team with Erling Haaland in the team. But again, it’s not his fault. Manchester City as a team will not play end to end football. It’s not Pep Guardiola’s way. His players don’t have the energy or the power or the pace to play end to end.

“They build up slowly and they push the opposition back to the edge of the box and they play from there, and when they lose it they win it back quickly, and they keep people hemmed in.

“Now, Erling Haaland has scored 25 league goals. A lot of those are coming across and he’s putting it in. But we’re not seeing the full package of what this player can do because of the team that he’s actually gone to.”

Team ‘bigger than any individual’ – even Erling Haaland

As a target man, Haaland is a different kind of striker to what a possession-based team like City have had before.

Through little fault of his own, though, the goal machine is affecting how City are functioning overall, according to Carragher.

The pundit added: “I’m not criticising him. What I’m saying is, him as a full package, when we’re talking about one of the best players in the world – he’s that good, he’s scored 25 goals – we’re actually only seeing probably 60 or 70 percent of  him, because we’re not seeing that power, that blistering pace.

“And I get it because of the way Manchester City play. But we’ve got to come back to the fact that no matter how many goals he scores as an individual, the team’s bigger than any individual.

“Manchester City have scored exactly the same amount of goals this season.”

Perhaps the bigger problem, though, is how things have changed in the opposite phase.

Carragher continued: “The attack hasn’t changed. The goals are there, Haaland’s been sensational, the goals that he’s got.

“The problem for Manchester City that was massive today was how easy they are now to counter attack and get at.

“And maybe that’s because they’ve got a fella who plays right up front, he’s maybe not in that midfield position to actually stop a counter attack.

“It’s far easier to get at Manchester City now as we saw today and that’s the big problem.”

For the former Liverpool defender, it is hard to work out who needs to adapt out of player and club.

He concluded: “How does it work in terms of who has to adapt more? I’m not being critical of anyone here.

“Haaland’s done his job. Man City have won four titles in five years doing a certain way. Who should be adapting more, who should be changing for who?”

It is certainly something Guardiola is going to have to think about if City are to close the distance with league leaders Arsenal. Sunday’s defeat was a missed opportunity to cut the gap after Mikel Arteta’s team also dropped points this weekend.

Haaland can certainly be an asset, but perhaps there is a need for some adaptability on some side.

READ MOREMan City to steal Liverpool, Chelsea target as Pep Guardiola identifies perfect successor for departing star