'It is our fault' – Guardiola blames collective for Haaland's off days

By Sports Desk February 24, 2023

Pep Guardiola has dismissed criticism of Erling Haaland, insisting it is the team's fault when the striker struggles to influence a game.

Having struck an incredible 32 goals in 32 games this season for Manchester City, Haaland failed to score in draws against Nottingham Forest and RB Leipzig over the last week, having just 22 touches in the Champions League last-16 first leg in Germany, the lowest amount of any player for either side who completed 90 minutes.

Speaking ahead of City's Premier League trip to Bournemouth, Guardiola said it was up to the rest of the team to find their star forward.

"That is our fault, Erling has been impressive for us all season," he told reporters.

"I don't need numbers or metrics, I know immediately after the game who has been involved and who has not.

"Yes, of course, it depends on us. We need to look for him a little more."

The City boss was unsure about the fitness of trio Aymeric Laporte, John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne, though while the latter could potentially be fit for Saturday's game on the south coast, the two defenders remain more unlikely to feature.

Guardiola also explained his decision not to make any substitutions during Wednesday's 1-1 draw in Leipzig, suggesting he had considered it at one point only for Josko Gvardiol's equaliser to alter his thinking.

It meant that City became the first team to make no substitutions in a Champions League game since Manchester United in October 2018 against Juventus.

"I'm not concerned [about squad depth], Kevin was not there, Aymeric, John," Guardiola added. 

"The second half I wanted to make a change, maybe Phil [Foden] or Julian [Alvarez] in a position close to Erling to be more aggressive, but after we conceded the goal we were good.

"When the situation is going more or less well I don't like to change things around normally, when I don't like what I see I will but I don't like to move things around [for the sake of it]."

City are two points behind Arsenal in the Premier League title race, having played a game more, and just three ahead of United.

Guardiola, a four-time Premier League winner, took the opportunity to offer a reminder that he was told English football would be more competitive than his previous jobs at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

"People told me when I arrived that the UK is different to Spain and Germany," he said. "Fortunately [for me], for most years it was only a two-horse [title] race.

"Now, finally, there is more."

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