It was the start he would have dreamed of. To announce himself to the fans by scoring the winning goal in his very first game for his new club. Moreso, against a European heavyweight.
The best players speak with their feet on the pitch. With his goal against Bayern Munich on his City debut, Erling Haaland has spoken loud and clear; he has not come to Manchester on a holiday. He has moved to the Etihad Stadium to do a job and he means business.
Although the 22-year-old did not feature in City’s first pre-season friendly game against Club America due to what Pep Guardiola referred to as “niggles”, the player himself is raring to go.
Asked after the encounter about his fitness level at the moment, he agreed with the manager he is not yet 100% fit but then went on to dismiss any talk of being held back by niggles.
“Of course, it’s not perfect but it will come, I’m not worried about that. I’m not perfect fitness-wise. These were my first minutes," said Haaland.
“Niggles? What are niggles? You saw that I’m feeling good and ready.”
One of the prerequisites to succeed in a Guardiola team is to be hungry. Haaland’s statements so far suggest he can’t wait to get into the thick of the action for the club.
The Norwegian is settling in quite well already, building rapport and friendship with the players on and off the pitch. He is already looking to form a good partnership with the likes of Jack Grealish and Kevin De Bruyne. That will mean a synergy that will produce a lot of goals.
For a player who thrives on goals, scoring on his debut for City will be a huge confidence booster that will enable him to hit the ground running once the season begins. The Blues will have a tough task on their hands of retaining their Premier League title once again. Hence, his goals will be crucial to keeping the team on top.
With other title rivals strengthening their squads ahead of the new season, City will need to up their game. Gabriel Jesus has been on fire at Arsenal in pre-season, as has Darwin Nunez for Liverpool. But Haaland’s goal just 12 minutes into his debut for the Blues shows he will not disappoint as an upgrade on the Brazilian.
It promises to be an interesting season ahead with the various strikers looking to outperform each other and take their teams even higher. Haaland has started on a good footing and will be looking to keep the ball rolling against Liverpool in the Community Shield.
Of course, that will just be a dress rehearsal for the main thing. For now, though, the man can’t wait. And it’s a mutual feeling among the majority of City faithful.