Durban - Since their Arab takeover in 2008, Manchester City have become one of the best clubs in the world. Despite that, the one trophy that has eluded them is the Uefa Champions League. Some critics of the Cityzens say they are cursed in this competition.
Despite being arguably the best manager of the modern generation, Pep Guardiola has also not won the Champions League since he led Barcelona to glory in the competition in 2011. City’s Champions League pursuit will probably eventually succeed as they are regularly advancing to the latter stages of the competition, and after having signed Erling Haaland this week, fans will have renewed hope.
The Norwegian is one of the best strikers in the world with a goal scoring rate better than Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi when they were 21. He has so far scored 85 goals from 88 games for Borussia Dortmund. Prior to joining Dortmund, he scored 29 goals from 27 games in all competitions for Red Bull Salzburg.
City have not struggled to score without a traditional striker after Sergio Aguero left them in 2021 and they will now score a lot more. It will only add to the work and research that teams facing them have to do defensively.
Like all players though, Haaland has weaknesses which Guardiola will have to work on rectifying. He tends to get offside a lot and this is partly due to his stocky frame in comparison to the average striker. He may often get caught offside while swinging his arms. His first touch is also not the best and he finds it hard to control the ball when there is little space.
His passing and heading can improve and it must be said that a lot of his headers are directed off–target. Haaland is also not the best at link-up play which is an important part of Guardiola’s systems.
With that being said, he can be an absolute goal machine if used in the right way. He makes the most out of space available to him and like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, also has a genius ability to manufacture his own chances out of nowhere.
At City, Haaland’s role will be to finish off opportunities manufactured for him by their many creative architects. All of the City attackers that appear regularly bar Jack Grealish have proven that they can create and score goals this season.
Even though Haaland is not the best at creative play, his physical presence will be enough to keep a few defenders focused on tracking him down and this in turn can create more space and opportunities for the likes of Phil Foden, Kevin de Bruyne and even Grealish who may be given next season to finally get going at City.
City are not far away from winning the Champions League. They reached the final of the competition last season and the semi-final this season. Haaland could just be the missing piece in their jigsaw puzzle to win the Champions League.