Erling Haaland is using the frustration of being forced to watch the World Cup on TV as motivation to score even more Premier League goals this season.
It’s the quickest anyone has reached the total, seven games earlier than the next quickest – Sunderland’s Kevin Phillips in 1999-2000 – and would have been enough to secure a share of the Golden Boot in five campaigns. Premier League.
Worrying for City’s top rivals, manager Pep Guardiola says Haaland is currently ‘not at his best’.
“I was at home, a little angry that I wasn’t playing at the World Cup,” Haaland told Amazon Prime.
“Watching other people score to win games at the World Cup fires me up, motivates me and irritates me. I’m hungrier and more ready than ever.”
Haaland was a childhood Leeds fan thanks to his father, Alfie, who played for both Leeds and Manchester City, and watched his son’s final masterclass from the stands at Elland Road.
“I’m happy – it’s a really special moment in my career,” said the Norwegian striker, who plays in his hometown against the team he supports.
“In my wildest fantasy, I couldn’t think of being at Elland Road and scoring for Manchester City against Leeds.”
“The more minutes he plays, the better he will be”
Guardiola is delighted with the goalscoring tally of his £51.2million summer signing from Borussia Dortmund.
However, Haaland admitted he could have had five, with Leeds keeper Illan Meslier making a trio of superb saves to deny the Norwegian.
And Guardiola revealed it took Haaland time to recover from the foot injury he suffered against Dortmund in the Champions League in October.
“He’s still not at his best, like he was at the start of the season,” the City boss said. “But the injury he suffered at Dortmund affected him for a long time.”
Guardiola said Haaland only trained once during City’s warm-weather camp in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, although he admits his observations are relative given the striker has now scored three times in two games since resuming after Qatar.
“Moving his huge body isn’t easy for him but the more minutes he can play the better off he will be,” the manager said.
“I had the feeling in the first half of the season, [the chance we had] in the first minute against Liverpool [in the Carabao Cup]and today the second minute against Leeds is a goal.
“It’s these details that are a bit [less] sharp. But every cross, every action, he is there. It has incredible meaning; I didn’t teach him a single concept about being in the box. He moves very well and knows exactly where the ball is going to land.”