Man City ‘alien’ Erling Haaland feared by rival managers

“We understand that people doubt sometimes,” said the midfielder.  “But we know the player he is and what he came from. He needs three touches to score a goal, he’s an incredible player.

“It is tough in that position because we are used to playing with a false nine that moves a lot and now we have him as a reference who doesn’t move too much. He needs to adapt.

“Of course, his natural talent makes the difference but he needs to do better at being involved in the game – when to come, when to drop, when to go to the space. It’s normal, we have just been together for one month …”

Regardless, Telegraph Sport can reveal that rival managers have already been calling each other to talk about just how dangerous Haaland is, fearful of the damage he can do, startled by his physical and technical attributes, hoping to pick each other’s brains to try to work out how to contain the new weapon at Guardiola’s disposal. On current evidence, you can try, but you will not succeed.

City were the best team in the country without a proper centre-forward last season; now they have arguably the best in Europe to lead their line. He sparked the fight-back from 3-1 down to earn a point at Newcastle the weekend before and won the game against Palace. The Viking has landed.

“He could not make a hat-trick against West Ham because I made a substitution and took him off,” added Guardiola. “We are here to win the games, not to score two, three goals. Numbers are nice but he is here to help us win. The rest is not important.

“Last season we couldn’t beat Palace but we won the title. This season we beat Palace, will we win the title? We are here to win titles and if you have a player like him, he will help because he has special qualities.”

Indeed he does, but Haaland wears them well. His goal celebrations were exuberant, wheeling away, arms swinging as the Etihad roared and cheered its new hero, but his one hand wave to his adoring fans after the final whistle was gentle acknowledgement rather than bask in the glory behaviour. No wonder Guardiola loves him.

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