Pep Guardiola insisted he was not concerned after Erling Haaland missed a series of chances including a late, close-range opportunity as Manchester City lost 3-1 to Liverpool in the Community Shield.
The Norway international, making his debut in domestic football for City, had spurned several opportunities in the first half at the King Power Stadium before the ball fell to him in added time with the goal gaping. But Haaland snatched at the attempt and blazed over, clipping the crossbar.
Guardiola was asked about this. “He’s strong. Another time he will put it in the net,” said the manager. “It’s football. He was there … He had another goal disallowed [in the game] because the ball was out, so he has this talent and the will do it. He had chances – two or three in the first half and one at the end.
“Always, he was there. He fought a lot, and made the movements. It is good for him to see the reality in a new country and a new league but he was there. He didn’t score. He has incredible quality and he will do it.
“I’m not concerned or worried. I’d have been happy to win and him to score goals but the reality is we have 11 months ahead of us that are so intense – with the World Cup we [will soon] play every three days – and he is going to help us.”
City were not at their fluid best but Guardiola denied they needed to adjust to Haaland’s mode of play. “He is going to help us a lot. When Erling Haaland scored in the States [on tour] everyone talked about how impressive he was,” said the 51-year-old. “He was there today and had the chances – nothing changes.”
While Julián Álvarez, another City debutant, scored for the champions, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Núñez registered for Jürgen Klopp’s side. The Liverpool manager was particularly pleased that Núñez scored on his debut.
“They are a special species, strikers,” said Klopp. “Everybody needs little positives and for strikers that means goals or goal involvements. The goal obviously is the icing on the cake so I’m really pleased for him. You could see on his face and on the faces of all his teammates how happy the boys are for him. It was clear that he will get better with time.”