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Pep Guardiola urges striker Erling Haaland to ‘RELAX’ amid pressure

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has advised star striker Erling Haaland to focus more on feeling relaxed than the pressure of scoring goals.

As City prepare to resume their Champions League campaign against FC Copenhagen, Guardiola believes that Haaland’s return from a two-month injury break has left the Norwegian striker overly concerned about quickly finding the back of the net.

Guardiola emphasized that while goals are essential, Haaland’s impact goes beyond scoring.

The manager highlighted Haaland’s role in team dynamics, including clapping, encouraging teammates, and delivering an intense press.

Guardiola stressed the need for Haaland to rediscover his rhythm gradually, acknowledging the challenges of returning after a significant injury layoff.

Guardiola stated, “He’s a huge competitor who wants to score goals. OK, we know that, so relax. If we don’t score today, or if he doesn’t score in 10 minutes, it’s OK.

In the process, he has to try because the team always wins when they overcome bad moments.”

Guardiola pointed to the recent Premier League victory against Everton as an example. Haaland had a quiet first half but went on to score twice in the second half, securing a 2-0 win for City.

Erling Haaland scoring versus Everton
Erling Haaland bullied Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite on Saturday in City’s 2-0 win. (Credit: Bein Sports)

The manager highlighted the importance of Haaland’s positive mindset, especially when facing challenges on the field.

Guardiola acknowledged the difficulties Haaland faces as a young player in a challenging position on the pitch. He explained, “In the first half maybe we didn’t have the special delivery players, like Kevin [de Bruyne], for example, who can find him.

In that moment he has to be positive. When he scored a goal he reacted, but he doesn’t need to score because he helps us for many things.”

While Guardiola’s comments may seem targeted at Haaland, he clarified that his observations were not specific to the Norwegian striker but rather a general assessment.

Guardiola acknowledged Haaland’s impressive goal-scoring record but emphasized that if he doesn’t score immediately, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

Guardiola said, “If he doesn’t score tomorrow, the day after, or next week, it’s not a big issue.” He urged patience and focus on Haaland’s overall contributions to the team.

As City faces FC Copenhagen in the Champions League last-16 tie, Guardiola expressed his expectation that Copenhagen’s two-month break will fuel their hunger and energy.

Despite the extended hiatus, Guardiola doesn’t underestimate Copenhagen, highlighting their strong performance in a challenging group that included Galatasaray and Manchester United.