Not long before his transfer was announced, I predicted that if you put a player like Erling Haaland in Manchester City’s squad, with the way they create chances, he would score 40 goals. Let me explain why.
City are a blooming good team without a centre forward but with one, they’d be almost perfect. At this time of the season, when you’re up against better opposition in big matches, this is when it shows what a world-class centre forward could offer.
In the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool, City missed two big one-on-ones. On one occasion, they won the ball high and put Gabriel Jesus through on goal, but the goalkeeper saved it. It was a similar story in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid — there were plenty of missed opportunities.
City press very high and win the ball high like that often, and Haaland will get a lot of those chances. With his pace, the clever way he gets across defenders, and the ability to finish it off the way he does, I see him scoring a few like that. He’s a fantastic player.
Of course, we all know Haaland’s finishing is great, because that’s what we associate him with — goals. He can score on his powerful left foot, his right foot, or with his head.
But the thing for me is his movement, which enables him to create space for himself. You have to have that as a centre forward. Once you’re static, you’re easy to mark. You won’t see Haaland dribble past two and three regularly — which I very rarely did either — but for a player who is 6ft 4in, his movement is fantastic. His first thought is always, “Where’s the space? Where can I run in behind?”
Take this goal for Borussia Dortmund against Eintracht Frankfurt, from a similar angle to the Jesus miss. Several great things jump out straight away.
First, he manages to stay onside with the bend and timing of his run.