Former Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce has revealed the moment he knew Erling Haaland was ‘going’ to the Premier League.
Haaland has taken the English top flight by storm but, just two months ago, Pearce doubted the Norwegian could fit in with Pep Guardiola’s style of play.
Haaland joined champions Manchester City in the summer but, although highly regarded during his electric spell with Borussia Dortmund, he didn’t immediately stand out.
Before the start of the new Premier League season, Guardiola’s side faced rivals Liverpool in the Community Shield, a game the Reds comfortably won 3-1 as City’s new star failed to score .
Fans and pundits alike came to question Haaland, citing City’s inability to give him the ball effectively during the game and doubting the Etihad Stadium side’s ability to adapt it to their style.
Pearce was one of those who questioned Haaland’s introduction, saying it could take him “a few years” to blend into the squad – and the England legend is more than happy to have been proven wrong.
Fast forward seven games into the campaign and Haaland is set to break Premier League records after scoring 11 goals, including consecutive hat-tricks, with a derby against Manchester United next Sunday.
And Pearce praised Haaland and his teammates for instantly resolving the issues they were facing by taking him into account during their disappointment at Wembley.
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“I covered the Community Shield at the start of the season and watched [Erling] He and Haaland did a couple of runs in the canals and they didn’t play the ball to him,” Pearce said on Friday’s talkSPORT Breakfast.
“I thought, ‘Unless they sync up with him, you’re not going to get the best out of him.’
“All of a sudden a week later they’re smart players, they started playing the ball in the channels, behind, and all of a sudden you’ve got a guy who can take it down the line or receive at the feet and build.
“My God me!”
Following the Community Shield, Haaland went into what can only be described as outrageous form.
He was successful on his league debut, scoring twice against West Ham at the London Stadium, and scored a total of 14 goals in ten appearances in all competitions.
But Pearce revealed it was against his former club Newcastle where he really saw what Haaland was capable of – with an interaction with experienced City right-back Kyle Walker being the key moment.
The England international had the ball and Haaland was queuing for it to be passed to him. However, Walker went for goal instead, much to the new striker’s frustration.
Pearce continued: “Walker had a chance and Haaland’s reaction to Walker… I think he’s a 22-year-old who just joined Manchester City.
“He just absolutely berated Kyle Walker, who is a seasoned professional who has been [in the Premier League] for a decade.
“It wasn’t the wrong way [his reaction]. It was: ‘I’m in a better position than you, so give me the ball, that’s what I’m here for.
“And I thought, ‘You go places my son!’”