‘I remember. All the memes’: Guardiola never had doubts over Erling Haaland

<span>Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images

Pep Guardiola has revealed that Erling Haaland laughs at those with “no respect” for him and that the striker reassured his manager that goals would be scored despite seeing memes of the clear chance he missed in the Community Shield.

City lost 3-1 to Liverpool in July’s curtain-raiser, with Haaland drawing a blank and becoming the subject of memes because of an opportunity he blazed over the bar. The Norwegian has 36 Premier League goals in 35 games and Guardiola was asked how he dealt with the pressure of his debut season in English football.

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“I don’t feel that he [thinks he] has much pressure. I think he handled it really well. At 22 years, handling the expectation, and with [some of] that he laughs. When he hears people with no respect he laughs. I remember the Community Shield, we lost 3-1. He missed one clear chance. I remember. All the memes, all the people talked about that. We didn’t know each other then as we had just one month working together but he said: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll score goals.’

“He is this type of guy. He has incredible self-confidence that with all the other chances to score goals it doesn’t matter what happens, he will not lose confidence. You are defined as a footballer by how you react to the bad moments. You know the Boston Celtics against Miami [in the NBA] were down 3-0 in the playoffs – now it is 3-2. That shows who they are. That is the point.”

Haaland – named the Premier League’s Player of the Season on Saturday – has only one goal in his last six appearances. When Guardiola was reminded of this he said the Norwegian would score again soon. The champions travel to Brentford in Sunday’s last league match before playing Manchester United in the FA Cup final and Internazionale in the Champions League final next month.

“I am not going to doubt the scoring machine Erling right now,” the manager said. “He had chances. Maybe he’s waiting for the right moment. He will be ready to score at the right moment to score the goals. He is ready. I am very pleased that he’s achieved all that he’s achieved – the goals and records.”

Guardiola referenced Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Brighton and Haaland’s efforts against Albion’s centre-backs Levi Colwill and Jan Paul van Hecke. “Going to Brighton and playing the way he played, fighting against two young lads. The determination he has and that is still there. He could say: ‘No, no I’m waiting for the two finals.’ But it’s completely the opposite and I like that. So he is ready. And anyway, he will score a goal.”