We all saw it coming as the 2022 summer transfer window approached. Erling Haaland will leave Borussia Dortmund, and his next destination will be the biggest summer transfer business story. All the big boys were interested, but Manchester City won out, and time will likely show that the blue side of Manchester is indeed the best fit for the Norwegian hit man.
It took Haaland just 12 minutes to score, in his Man City debut, and the goal held up as the game winner as the English champions bested the German champions 1-0 n front of 78,128 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The ultra-historic American football venue saw its first ever soccer game last night, and it ended with the stadium blaring “Wonderwall” by Oasis.
It’s obviously a nod to the tradition at the Etihad, which honors one of the club’s most famous supporters, Mancunian singer-songwriter Noel Gallagher, formerly of Oasis. Expect many more victory songs to be played, over and over, this upcoming season.
Erling Haaland, along with Kylian Mbappe, could step up and fill the void once Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are gone. Haaland, 22, has the advantage because he’s being coached by the finest football genius around. One player even said that being coached by Guardiola is better than sex.
“Pep Guardiola is a bit crazy,” Haaland said in the mixed zone at Lambeau last night. I like that. It’s gonna be fun.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) July 24, 2022
“First win against Bayern – it was about time – seven losses in a row. To win against Bayern feels good. It was good to play against Bayern, to get a real test before Liverpool in a week.”
It’s not just the coaching of Guardiola, it’s also the set-ups by Jack Grealish, the only 100m GBP player in English history. And of course the service of Kevin De Bruyne, a perennial favorite to win PFA Player of the Year. It’s all coming together to form one super team.
“He scored a goal which is important, these goals in front of keeper – always he’s there,” Guardiola said in his post match press conference.
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) July 24, 2022
“The first minutes, he needs more rhythm and time but already he had 45 minutes which is good.”
The previous day, during the media day in Green Bay, Guardiola said the following:
“He’s been training really well, looks like a really nice guy, down to earth. Not just him, he’s an important signing but Julián, Kalvin, Stefan, the young lads. I was impressed with Josh [Wilson-Esbrand] and Rico [Lewis] when he played.”
— Paul M. Banks (@PaulMBanks) July 24, 2022
Other than Gabriel Jesus (who left this summer for Arsenal after only playing sporadically, City did not have a true centre-forward/recognized out and out striker. last season They had lots of options at the false nine, with players who play as a nine, but Erling Haaland is the real deal. His instincts inside the penalty area are second to none
They were in essence a team of midfielders, with certain winger/attacking midfielders playing the role of leading the line at various times. It certainly works for them, as they are second in the Premier League in scoring.
Said Erling Haaland on Saturday night: “I have watched City a lot the last few years. They’ve played without a striker. So I’ve imagined myself in these situations. I’m not surprised.” I can’t say much after one week, but I’ve been training well and I’m ready to continue.”
City finished with 99 goals last season, against just 22 conceded.
“If we have a striker, we play in a different way but if you don’t have it you have to adapt with the quality [abilities] that we have,” Guardiola said in a very well-written article on this topic in The Guardian.
Now that they’re teaming up the clinical finishing techniques, and nose for the ball that Erling Haaland has, with the tactical and organizational brilliance of Pep Guardiola- an absolutely lethal combination is developing, and it’s set to take City up yet another notch. Given how they have won the league four of the last five years, it’s a very scary thought.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He has regularly appeared in WGN, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and he co-hosts the After Extra Time podcast, part of Edge of the Crowd Network. Follow him and the website on Twitter and Instagram.