Patrice Evra suggested Man City could embark on a period of dominance unprecedented in the Premier League era, insisting they have “no excuse” after signing the “monster” Erling Haaland.
Haaland, 22, has wasted little time making a mockery of Premier League defences. The Norwegian hitman already has 11 goals in his first seven league outings in England. If that ratio were scaled up across a full 38-game season, Haaland would end up on 60 goals.
For context, the current record across a 38-game EPL season is Mohamed Salah’s 32 goals. Over the old 42-game format, the record is shared between Andy Cole and Alan Shearer (34 goals).
Injuries, dips in form and the inevitable rotation as the season wears on could stifle Haaland’s surge. However, given his start, he looks a dead certainty to smash both records on his first attempt.
Man City have won four of the last five Premier League titles and are red hot favourites again this season. Under Pep Guardiola, they’ve also won four of the last six league cups and one FA Cup.
They’ve been the undisputed dominant force on the domestic circuit, though the big prize that has eluded them thus far is in Europe.
City are still yet to win the Champions League, though are getting close. They bowed out in the semi-finals last year to Real Madrid and were pipped 1-0 by Chelsea in the final the year prior.
The showcase event against Chelsea saw Guardiola operate without a recognised number nine. While playing without a striker hasn’t harmed their domestic success, it has been a factor in dashing their European aims.
However, according to ex-Man Utd left-back Patrice Evra, Haaland’s arrival now gives City “no excuse” in the UCL.
Haaland to spark slew of Champions League successes too?
Evra stated Guardiola will never again play without a recognised striker in the big matches now the “monster” Haaland is signed.
What’s more, if City do overcome their European hurdle and begin to win that competition regularly, there’ll be very few trophies for their rivals left to scrap for.
“[Haaland] is a monster,” said Evra (via the Manchester Evening News).
“He is using his physique, he’s a killer in front of goal. He does the right movements, he’s sharp for someone tall and strong. He’s like a cat.
“He got them back on track and that’s why he’s a number nine, and this is a real number nine.
“City were winning the league without a striker. But in the Champions League they struggled, now I feel like they have no excuse.
“When they lost that final against Chelsea, Guardiola decided to play without any striker, now this won’t happen again.”
Guardiola must manage his new marksman
Given Haaland’s incredible start, the easy decision would be to play him at every opportunity.
He is a guarantee of goals and with Kevin De Bruyne providing the bullets, Haaland looks near-unstoppable already.
However, one crumb of comfort City’s rivals may find is the Norwegian’s injury history.
Haaland missed six league matches in Dortmund’s 2020-21 campaign and that figure rose to 10 last season. Hip flexor issues and muscle injuries resulted in Haaland being sidelined for 95 days at Dortmund last year alone, per Transfermarkt.
Guardiola will be well aware of Haaland’s history and has already set about managing his minutes. While he’s started all nine of City’s league and UCL fixtures, he’s been brought off before 90 minutes in five of them.
His outings on the League Cup and FA Cup could therefore be rare.
If City are to embark on a period of dominance that includes the Champions League, having Haaland fit and firing at the business end of the season will be critical.