Pep Guardiola said Erling Haaland was born to score goals after Manchester City’s new striker helped the champions open their Premier League defense with a comfortable 2-0 win against West Ham.
Haaland scored twice as City ran out winners at the London Stadium. The Norwegian said it was “a bit nasty” that he missed out on a hat-trick, but Guardiola couldn’t be happier with the former Borussia Dortmund player’s display.
“He’s been here for five years,” the City manager said. “Hopefully he will stay for this time and even more. We want all the new guys to be happy, feel good in the city and with the team. And push him a little more.
“He’s a guy with incredible talent, scores nice numbers but we’d like to add something more to his game to be a better player. Not just a guy who scores goals, which is so important, but that’s why we want to try to give him everything to be a better player. He was born to score goals.”
Guardiola, who made no apologies for taking Haaland off in the second half, responded sarcastically to criticism of the 22-year-old following City’s defeat to Liverpool in the Community Shield. “A week ago he could not adapt in the Premier League,” he said. “Now he’s next to the best, Titi [Thierry] Henry, Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo.”
There was impressive conviction from Haaland as he won and dispatched the penalty for City’s opening goal. “I know how he dealt with a lot of criticism this week, he was really calm and trained very well,” Guardiola said. “But the way he took the ball to take the penalty, I liked it. He’s straight and if someone takes his ball he’ll punch one of his mates in the face. I’m pretty sure of that.”
Haaland vowed to continue to improve and criticized himself for failing to convert Ilkay Gündogan’s cross.
“It was a good start,” he said. “There’s nothing to say other than that and it was 2-0. It was good to get some minutes in the legs early in the season and we have to keep going.
“It’s about the relationships we make every day in training and practice, so we’re going to get better and this will come. Also now it’s almost 30 minutes since I scored the last goal so I have to keep going.”
David Moyes praised Haaland’s display. “We all watched him from afar,” said the West Ham manager. “He’s someone who looks like he’s going to be an outstanding player. He made the same runs as against Liverpool.”
Moyes admitted his side had been outplayed by City. “They were so good. I felt that tactically they completely outplayed us today. They played differently than at the end of last season with both full-backs in the middle of the pitch as midfielders.”