Manchester City’s signing of Erling Haaland was the most significant one from the last transfer window. With the addition of the Norwegian, the Citizens complement a dream squad led by manager Pep Guardiola.
Moreover, the forward seems to have landed on his feet during the first few games, managing to score 12 goals and make one assist in 8 matches so far this campaign. For all these reasons, at the MBP School of Coaches, we are going to analyse what the striker brings to City.
Firstly, Haaland’s presence at Manchester City has improved the ability to occupy the box in finishing situations.
Unlike in previous seasons where it was common to see the Citizens play without a striker, with the incorporation of Haaland, Pep’s side now consistently possess a threat inside the box.
This aspect is reflected in the crosses from out wide. As well as being a superb finisher inside the box, either with his feet or through his excellent aerial play, Haaland has mastered a number of individual fundamentals that allow him to always be in the right position.
One of the most important of these is the ability to ‘attack the most effective spaces for finishing’. This allows him to be in the right place at each moment, giving him the time/space he needs to finish.
Likewise, during the application of the previous fundamental, on many occasions another one occurs in a merged form, which relates to ‘attacking the ball as early as possible in its trajectory’.
With the application of both, in addition to having enough time/space for the shot, the Premier League’s top goalscorer always manages to anticipate his direct defender, making it impossible for the opponent to mark him effectively.
The second major improvement Haaland has added to Pep’s team is the increased variability of options in the way to attack the opponent.
Despite the fact that City have a style of play defined by their manager, the presence of the Norwegian has allowed the side to have different variants in the progression of the play.
For example, in situations where the opposition is defending in a very low block close to their own goal, the English team’s alternative principle in recent seasons has been to attack the box with crosses from the wing. This season, with the presence of Haaland on the pitch, the effectiveness of this principle has increased due to Haaland’s superiority in the air.
Another example of the variability of attacking resources offered by the striker occurs in situations where the opposition’s defensive line is very high. In this type of scenario, unlike in previous seasons, City opt to attack the spaces from through balls to their striker thanks to the technical, tactical and physical qualities he possesses.
As well as boasting outstanding conditional capabilities that allow him to lose opponents over distance or use his body to win a possible challenge, thus gaining a better position, the forward also excellently applies the fundamental of ‘dismarking into the inside spaces in depth when there is a spatial imbalance in the defensive line’.
Faced with possible spatial or structural imbalances in the opponent’s defensive line, Haaland does not hesitate to attack them through runs in behind, offering his team a solution to this type of scenario.
Finally, another of the great strengths that the new Citizen player is providing is his ability to offer support in the last line of defence for subsequent lay-offs.
In situations where the opposition are deep in their own half and where Guardiola’s are building an associative attack, the former Dortmund star is essential in fixing centre-backs. At the same time, he applies the fundamental of ‘offering support for continuity’ to his team-mates for lay-offs, enabling them to progress forward to the opposition goal.
A micro-concept in the application of the fundamental refers to the importance of offering support diagonally to the on-ball teammate, as this makes it difficult for the opponent to intercept the pass, as well as allowing the player to make better use of his body in situations of pressure from the direct defender.
There is no doubt that the Haaland’s presence at Manchester City has given the team a magnitude of unlimited attacking resources. His impact on the side from the outset has been fascinating, not only in terms of his goalscoring, but through the various tactical aspects he has brought, making Guardiola’s City even more fearsome.