Man Mountain Erling Haaland silences critics with Brentford show | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Man Mountain Erling Haaland silences critics with Brentford show

Feb 21, 2024 05:55 PM IST

On Tuesday in what was an important Premier League match for the Citizens against Brentford, Haaland helped his team to a win through a 71st-minute goal.

Erling Haaland continues to do what he does best: score goals for Manchester City and keep their invincibility quotient up.

Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring their first goal with Phil Foden(REUTERS)
Manchester City's Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring their first goal with Phil Foden(REUTERS)

On Tuesday in what was an important Premier League match for the Citizens against Brentford, Haaland helped his team to a win through a 71st-minute goal. With the victory, they came within one point of sharing the lead with table toppers Liverpool.

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What makes Haaland so special? Of course, he has got skills but it's his resilience that sets the Norwegian forward apart. It hasn't been an easy season for him. His great start to the 2023-24 was halted by a foot injury that kept him out of 10 games across competitions for almost two months.

He returned to action late last month against Burnley and though he has had a couple of unsatisfactory games since by his high standards, it has not pulled him down really. Amid so much criticism, particularly after the previous game against Chelsea where his Midas touch appeared to have deserted him, he has continued to prove his critics wrong. Players who return after injuries often take a very long time before they can unleash their best again. That way, Haaland hasn't taken long to get back to being resourceful.

Since the Burnley outing, City have played five games. He provided an assist and scored a brace in important Premier League wins against Brentford (away) and Everton respectively. The Champions League game against FC Copenhagen and the Premier League tie vs Chelsea a few days later were the outings where he really couldn't contribute and brought him a lot of flak.

Despite missing five Premier League games, Haaland remains the highest scorer in the league with 17 goals. Besides, he has provided five assists. Recently his grandmother passed away. Make no mistake, his resilience amid grief is the true measure of the man. He brings so much to the table that is it a surprise that manager Pep Guardiola leapt to his defence in the press conference after the Brentford home game!

"He was out with injury for two months and is not in his best shape and just had an incredibly tough week because he lost his grandmother. That is not easy for a human being," Guardiola said.

Haaland joined City in 2022. He hasn't missed a beat since. To date, he has played 55 Premier League games and scored a whopping 53 goals. Almost a goal per match! The kind of form he showed at Borussia Dortmund in Germany that made Guardiola go ahead and secure his signature... he has continued to show in the Premier League.

The 23-year-old Haaland is a big guy at 6'4". The sturdy frame does help him to get the better of certain defenders but in football, it's never the physique that makes the difference. What makes the difference is the ability to foresee how the goal-scoring opportunity is being created. How defenders are trying to thwart the move and then do what is the need of the hour. More than anything else, it's the insatiable desire to contribute more and more to the team's cause. Haaland does it through his goals!

Haaland, along with Kevin de Bruyne, remains City's biggest bet in their quest to win the Premier League for the fourth successive time. Something no team has done before in England. Besides they can become the first English team to defend their Champions League title. Since the European Cup was changed to the Champions League in 1992-93, no English team has the honour of winning back-to-back Champions League titles.

Criticism is part and parcel of an athlete's career and Haaland too will have his share of it whenever he sees a dip in form. But there is no denying he is one of the best strikers in the world. Only Kylian Mbappe and Harry Kane can challenge him for the title of the best striker in the world. The rest, if truth be told, have a lot of catch-up to do.

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