Manchester United legend Jaap Stam has given his take on how to keep a muzzle on Manchester City’s free-scoring goal fiend Erling Haaland.
The Norwegian sensation has settled seamlessly into life at the Etihad, already bagging 12 goals in just eight appearances for the club, including 10 in the Premier League as he leads the infant Golden Boot race and two in the Champions League after bagging a brace against Sevilla earlier this week.
Having fired a blank in the Community Shield at the end of July as Liverpool ran out 3-1 victors, with Darwin Nunez opening his account for the Reds, Haaland has gone on a formidable scoring spree that’s seen him net in six of the proceeding seven matches across all competitions, sealing two hat-tricks in the process.
Many were expecting his professional relationship with attack-heavy tactician Pep Guardiola to flourish, but few were perhaps anticipating his current level of goal-laden success, with the City marksman either scoring or assisting in every Premier League or European game he’s been involved in with City so far.
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Plenty of managers will be in for sleepless nights and a fair few head-scratching sessions with their respective coaching teams as they look to formulate a plan to defang Haaland — and they may be wise to heed the advise of Stam, who has outlined his blueprint to counter the Norwegian’s final-third devastation.
Speaking to Squawka (courtesy of bet365), Stam said: “You need to be very aggressive. When the opposition has the ball, you need to go on and play in City’s half, you need to make sure someone is always very tight on Haaland and trying to take him out of the game, especially when you lose the ball — he can’t be allowed to get hold of it.
“You need cover too, otherwise if you try and risk it to play against him one-v-one, with a lot of space in your back, nine out of ten times, it’s going to be a very difficult situation. So you need to be very aggressive against him.
“Teams are changing how they setup defensively when he’s playing because of his threat. People are saying we need to put a midfield player in front of him as well, to give them more time on the ball. But you need to make choices now as an opposition to defend against him.
“Speaking personally, sometimes when you play higher up the pitch, one needs to be aggressive on him and the other needs to cover you.”
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