Sergio Aguero explained what went wrong for Erling Haaland on his Man City debut against Liverpool, and claimed his former club were wrong to axe Raheem Sterling.
Haaland made his City bow on Saturday in the Community Shield versus Liverpool. The Reds looked the sharper of the two sides and duly emerged with a 3-1 victory to lift the season’s first piece of silverware.
All the neutral eyes were on how Haaland would adapt to a City side that has played without a recognised centre-forward since the Aguero days.
Haaland showed impressive movement throughout, though the timing of his runs was at odds with the pace of build-up play from City’s playmakers.
Indeed, Haaland often dashed in behind the moment he saw the ball at the feet of Kevin De Bruyne and co. However, the Belgian and his creative teammates often opted to play the extra pass out wide, thus leaving Haaland stranded offside.
Regardless, the Norwegian could’ve bagged a brace against one of England’s meanest defences had he found his shooting boots. His last-minute miss with the goal gaping will go down as a collector’s item.
Now, former Man City striker Aguero has spoken out about what went wrong for Haaland at the King Power.
Speaking on his Twitch channel, the City icon suggested Haaland has not yet adapted to the step up in quality English defences will provide. Furthermore, he referenced the impact of Virgil van Dijk who by and large kept the Norwegian marksman quiet.
“He was too used to Germany,” said the ex-Argentina striker (via the Mirror).
“Haaland thought he was alone, then Van Dijk arrived and said ‘welcome to the Premier League’.”
Raheem Sterling sale a “strange” decision
Aguero went on to suggest the sale of Raheem Sterling won’t be to the benefit of Haaland.
On that front specifically, Aguero branded the sale of Sterling to a direct rival in Chelsea a “strange decision”.
“I don’t understand the sale of Sterling,” he continued. “There are times they (City) make strange decisions.”
One positive for City did come in the impact fellow new boy Julian Alvarez made from the bench.
The Argentine notched City’s only goal on the day and looked every bit at home in a Guardiola frontline.
Joking about what his fellow countryman can expect in England, Aguero said: “Julian sent me a message to find out how life is in Manchester, I told him that he was going to be very cold!”
City fans need not worry over Haaland
The Norwegian’s debut did have a sense of Romelu Lukaku 2.0 about it. Both players make runs in behind at the first opportunity, though their playmakers prefer a slower and more controlled pace of build-up.
Like Lukaku, Haaland wasn’t clinical in front of goal when the opportunities did come, though City fans need not worry.
Haaland finished the game with an xG (expected goals) output of 1.04. That came against the rock solid defence of Liverpool and Haaland won’t face rearguards of that quality very often this season.
It will take time for both he and City’s creative players to forge an understanding. The sight of an exasperated De Bruyne bemoaning the timing of one of Haaland’s runs on Saturday may become a frequent occurrence in the coming months,
However, whether it’s Haaland being more patient or City being more direct, one thing is for sure, Pep Guardiola will strive to make ensure Haaland is a success at the Etihad.