Pep Guardiola insisted he wasn’t bothered after Erling Haaland missed a string of chances including a late close-range opportunity as Manchester City lost 3-1 to Liverpool in the Community Shield.
The Norway international, who made his home debut for City, missed several first-half opportunities at King Power Stadium before the ball fell on him in stoppage time with a gaping net. But Haaland seized on this attempt and swept past, hitting the crossbar.
Guardiola was asked about it. “He is strong. Another time he will put it online,” the manager said. “This is football. He was there … He was not credited for another goal [in the game] because the ball was out, so he has this talent and 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 moves. It’s good for him to see reality in a new country and a new league, but he’s been there. He didn’t score. He has incredible quality and he will do it.
“I’m not worried and I’m not worried. I would be happy to win and he to score goals, but the reality is that we have 11 very busy months ahead of us – with the World Cup we [will soon] play every three days – and he’s going to help us.”
City weren’t at their best, but Guardiola denied that they needed to adapt to Haaland’s game mode. “He will help us a lot. When Erling Haaland scored in the States [on tour] everyone was talking about how impressive he is,” said the 51-year-old. “He was there today and he had chances – nothing changes.”
While another City debutant, Julian Alvarez, has been scoring for the Champions, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez have signed up for Jurgen Klopp’s side. The Liverpool manager was particularly pleased that Nunes scored on his debut.
“They are a special breed, strikers,” Klopp said. “Everyone needs a little positivity and for attackers that means scoring or participating in goals. The goal is obviously the icing on the cake, so I’m very happy for him. It was clear from his face and from the faces of all his teammates how happy the guys were for him. It was clear that he would get better with time.”