Pep Guardiola said Erling Haaland will prove his worth to Manchester City and show his “incredible quality” after the €60 million summer signing was upstaged by Liverpool‘s Darwin Nunez during a 3-1 Community Shield defeat in Leicester.
Haaland, one of the game’s most exciting young talents, touched the ball just 14 times in 90 minutes and missed a clear chance to score in stoppage time. In contrast, €75m signing Nunez scored one and registered an assist during a 31-minute substitute outing for Jurgen Klopp’s team.
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But despite Haaland’s false start in his first game in English football, City manager Guardiola said he had no concerns over the Norway international’s ability to succeed at the club.
“He [Haaland] had chances, two or three in first half and one at the end,” Guardiola said. “He fought a lot, made the movements. It’s good for him to see the reality of new country, new league, but he was there.
“He didn’t score. Another day he will score. He has an incredible quality on that and he will do it. He has an incredible sense.
“He is going to help us a lot — he had the chances, he was there. Nothing changed.”
Haaland’s miss in the closing stages, when he hit the bar from six yards, brought a sarcastic cheer from the Liverpool supporters and prompted the 22-year-old to be mocked on social media.
But Guardiola said he will not be affected by the miss
“He is strong,” Guardiola said. “Another time he will put it in the net, what’s the problem? It’s football, he was there. He has the talent, he will do it.
“It’s good to understand, I am not worried about that. The reality is that the season is a long 11 months, so intense, games every three days, but he is going to help us, I’m sure of that.”
While Haaland struggled, Nunez enjoyed a fine debut following his summer arrival from Benfica.
But Liverpool boss Klopp urged supporters not to get carried away by his first appearance in the English game.
“He [Nunez] was good, really good, and it is clear that he will get better with time,” Klopp said. “Everybody will judge on his first few touches and that’s a joke, but we live with that. His impact from the bench was exceptional.
“We all know they are a special species, strikers. They all need goals and goal involvements.
“He would have been fine without his goal because he created the penalty with his header and had a chance when the goalkeeper reacted brilliantly.
“His goal was the icing on the cake, brilliant for him and it’s a really good sign after the time he has been with us.”