Haaland’s goalscoring heroics a ‘surprise’, says Guardiola | football news

Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland’s astonishing scoring feats for Manchester City have been “amazing”, with the Norwegian on the verge of breaking the Premier League single-season goals record.

Manchester City’s Norwegian striker Erling Haaland (AFP)

The 22-year-old netted his 34th goal of the league campaign in a 2-1 win at Fulham on Sunday, taking him level with joint Premier League single-season record holders Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.

Haaland’s strike at Craven Cottage was his 50th goal of the season – the record by a Premier League player in all competitions since the rebranding of the top flight in 1992.

With a possible 10 games remaining for treble-chasing City in the period, Haaland could also surpass Dixie Dean’s all-time English record of 63 goals, set in the 1927/28 season.

The Everton player’s mark of 60 top-flight strikes during that campaign would certainly remain intact.

It has been a breathless first year in English football for Haaland, and even Guardiola did not expect such a spree from the former Borussia Dortmund star.

“It’s surprising for all of us – maybe not for him – what he’s doing in this tough league, but the way he behaves and what he’s done, it’s for the success of the team. “

“Obviously it is good for him and the team if he breaks the record. This is a good sign.

“The magnitude of a record is because it was not broken for a long time. All records will be broken one day.”

‘Unbelievable Confidence’

Guardiola believes Haaland’s second season with City could be even better than his first.

He said, “I think he has the desire to get better as a player. As long as he has the will, he can do that.”

“I’ve known him a little bit and he’s very competitive and positive in his mindset. He has this incredible, positive confidence. It’s not arrogance.”

“It’s a confidence to say I’m going to score and arrive in my first season having already scored 50 and equaling the records of two legends in Andy Cole and Alan Shearer.”

Comparisons have also been made between Haaland and Argentine star Lionel Messi, who scored 73 goals for Barcelona in 2011–12.

But Guardiola insisted it was unfair to draw parallels with Messi, who played under the Spaniard at Barcelona.

“Nobody can compare with Messi. It won’t help Erling. Messi is the most complete player I have seen in terms of vision, dribble, passing, competitiveness, many things that are difficult.

“Hopefully Erling can be that close to Leo, which would be great for us and him, but I don’t help anybody compare them.”

In-form City put themselves firmly in the title race after beating Arsenal 4-1 last week.

But, after Fulham insisted, Guardiola is not taking anything lightly ahead of City’s home game against West Ham on Wednesday.

He added, “West Ham may not have had the season they expected but that doesn’t mean the quality isn’t there.”

“The arms are there, they are a good team. I have no doubt about them. Anything can happen in a game. We have to be fully prepared.”

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