Just like several other Manchester City players, Erling Haaland cut short celebrations and returned to the national team set-up for crucial international games. Jack Grealish has been called out for his excessive yet understandable celebrations, but he is just the first in a long line of City players guilty of partying a little too hard.
Unfortunately, that usually takes its toll especially after going through a long and tedious season. While England manager Gareth Southgate thought it wise to leave the Man City contingent on the bench against Malta with only Phil Foden making a second half appearance on Friday night, Norway’s head coach Stale Solbakken started Haaland for their Euro 2024 qualifier against Scotland.
Although the striker did stay on until deep into the second half before being substituted, he was largely ineffective in the game. It was clear he was running on an empty tank despite managing to convert a penalty for his national side. But unable to hold on to their one-goal lead, the team collapsed in the later stages of the game losing 2-1 to their visitors.
For a striker usually relied upon to score two or three goals in a game when needed, Haaland couldn’t help. Questioned during the post-match press conference on why his talisman was pulled out of the game shortly before the team’s collapse, the coach explained that he had no choice.
“He asked to be changed. We kept him on the pitch 10-12 minutes longer. In the last few minutes he was on the field, we played with one less man. He was completely empty,” said coach Stale Solbakken.
“He has only played 60 minutes several times before. We’re talking about it being 30 degrees. He ran out of steam.”
With Norway yet to win a game in qualifying, the team is now in a desperate situation. The coach will be hopeful Haaland shakes off any lingering hangover and turns up with his scoring boots to help the team beat Cyprus on Tuesday.
However, as glorious as scoring goals, winning awards and trophies is, after a long strenuous season competing for several trophies, it’s about time the player was allowed a well-deserved rest. He most likely can’t wait to jet off for the end of season break.
He will need some time to relax and recharge his batteries before returning for the next campaign. Pep Guardiola and City have more silverware to win and the Champions League trophy to defend, after all. And the 22-year-old will play a key role in achieving those goals.