Manchester City forward Erling Haaland has been out of action for more than a month, but he wasted no time in finding the net again upon his return to competitive action
It took less than 10 minutes for Erling Haaland to remind the world – and his manager Pep Guardiola – that he’s no normal football player.
With all eyes on the World Cup in Qatar, it was a case out of sight and out of mind when it came to the Manchester City striker. And while Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi duked it out for the Golden Boot, Haaland was left waiting for club football to get back underway.
With Norway failing to qualify for this winter’s tournament, the 22-year-old was able to enjoy a well-deserved break from competitive action. Prior to the Carabao Cup quarter-final vs Liverpool, it had been more than a month since his last game.
City boss Guardiola had called for patience for his star player and warned that it could take him some time to get back up to full speed. “We will see. I have a feeling the players in the World Cup are in a better condition than we were here,” he said on the eve of the game with Liverpool.
“Sergio [Gomez], Erling [Haaland], Riyad [Mahrez], Cole [Palmer], they miss a little bit. Compared to Manu [Akanji], Rodri, Aymeric [Laporte]. The players who come back competed and trained every day, while we had a holiday. That’s why tomorrow is important. To keep the rhythm and for the players who were not at the World Cup, to gain that rhythm.”
As it transpired, he needn’t have worried. On the stroke of the 10th minute at the Etihad, he managed to get across Joe Gomez to expertly poke home a Kevin De Bruyne cross. That strike brought his tally for the season to 24 goals from just 18 appearances in all competitions.
Earlier this month, while carrying out an individual training regime in Abu Dhabi, Haaland opened up on how he had spent his month away from the limelight. “It’s been a good opportunity to reset,” he explained in an interview with the National.
“Of course every player wants to be at the World Cup. It’s my dream to represent my country there and I’ll work hard to make sure that I do that one day. But the break has been positive.
“I’ve had the chance to rest, to take my mind off football for a few weeks and put myself in the best possible place to return. I can’t wait for it to start again. I’m raring to go.”
He prophetically added: “We have to hit the ground running when we return because we have some tough games across the different competitions and we want to win them all.
“The focus will be on getting fit, getting ready and then heading into the game against Liverpool looking to get a positive result and giving our fans something to be excited about as we head into the second half of the season.”