Erling Haaland: Pep Guardiola defends Manchester City striker after Roy Keane criticism

Following Roy Keane’s criticism of striker Erling Haaland following Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Arsenal, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has backed the player.

The former captain of Manchester United claimed that Haaland “almost looks like a League Two player” and that his “general play” is “so poor”.

Guardiola responded, “I don’t agree with him, absolutely not,” in response to a question regarding Keane’s remarks.

With 29 goals this season, including 18 in the Premier League, Haaland tallied 52 goals in all competitions the previous year.

Guardiola continued, “He’s the best striker in the world.” The 23-year-old Norwegian is a striker.

“We need greater presence in the final third with more players, which is why we didn’t generate many replies from Erling, who helped us win last season.

“I looked back at the match against Arsenal, and we played a fantastic game; we just wasted more opportunities in the last third. The caliber and diversity of our skill set at Haaland is outstanding.”

After Sunday’s match, which saw the host team fail to score in a Premier League game at the Etihad Stadium for the first time since October 2021, City is three points behind leaders Liverpool.

Following the match, Keane, a pundit on Sky Sports, remarked of Haaland, “The levels of his general play are so poor, and not just today.” His all-around performance for He is almost like a League Two player, which is why I believe he needs to progress as a player.”

In response, Guardiola said, “There are many, many reasons why some actions are missed, sometimes it’s the managers, and sometimes the opponent is incredibly brilliant.

“In football there is not just one reason, sometimes where you have success or you don’t have success, there are many reasons, it’s football, it’s a team sport.”

Sutton calls Haaland’s criticism “total nonsense.”
Chris Sutton, a former striker in the Premier League, claimed that Haaland simply faced “brilliant defenders” in Sunday’s game against second-place Arsenal.

He continued, saying, “It was total nonsense and unfair on Erling Haaland,” on Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club. All season long, everyone has been singing William Saliba and Gabriel’s praises.

“They’re probably the best at working off a center-forward’s touch, being really clever with their defending,” said Haaland in response to a pass from Manchester City goalkeeper Stefan Ortega.

“Maybe Haaland’s mind had functioned better in those situations, or perhaps he could have been a little bit stronger or cuter? Naturally. However, there are moments when you face exceptional defenders, like Saliba and Gabriel did on Sunday.

Because he is a monster finisher, he wasn’t recruited to Manchester City to play a creative role; rather, he was brought in to occupy the center of the field and allow others to create for him.

“He was never going to reach the levels he did in the previous season. He’s not lost his touch; he’s still a fantastic striker.”

Guardiola responds cynically regarding demeaning athletes
Micah Richards, a former City defender, thought the forward could improve his game nonetheless.

“No-one’s asking Erling Haaland to become a number 10, be like Harry Kane and play 30 to 40-yard balls,” he stated.

“All they’re requesting is that he simply hold up the ball when it gets to him, considering his size.

“On Sunday, Gabriel and [William] Saliba used their power to regain possession of the ball whenever they approached him. Everyone wants him to use his body more, that’s all. We’re not requesting that he act like Dennis Bergkamp.

Sometimes you won’t get the chance, but you still need to take additional actions to help the team out in terms of a build-up.”