Can you disappoint your manager by placing your team/teammates over your personal self? No, you can’t unless you are Erling Haaland. This guy has the tendency to do things that a normal human can’t even think of. Consider this is 2021 and Cristiano Ronaldo playing for Manchester United is on the verge of a record-breaking season with his team-leading 2-0 after the half time and being awarded a penalty. His partner Marcus Rashford has already scored a brace and has the chance to get a hat-trick under his belt. But will Ronaldo let go of the opportunity to strike the ball past the opponent’s net? We know the answer!!!!
Erling Haaland was faced with the same circumstance in Manchester City’s latest win over Leeds United. With the hosts 2-0 up and both goals being scored by Ilkay Gundogan, they were awarded the penalty in the 84th minute. Man City’s first-choice striker could have easily gone up to the mark and slotted one past the net to get his 36th in the Premier League. But did he do that? NO. Instead, he passed the ball to Gundogan and let him complete his hat-trick. To Manchester City’s misfortune, the German could only rattle the center of the post and be void of his hattrick. This decision was nowhere near appreciated by Pep who was furious with Haaland not standing up on the ball. He was seen shouting from outside to Haaland that “You have to take it”.
And after the match, Pep did vent out his frustration. “Who knows if Erling takes the penalty and misses? What happens if Riyad takes the penalty and misses?” Guardiola asked.
“What happens if Ilkay Gundogan takes the penalty and scores? The question is if it’s 2-0, who is the taker? The taker Erling or Riyad, has to take it. The second point is that it shows how is Erling as a person. He wants to score goals, but at the same time the team, the mates are so important.”
“At 2-0, you have to close it. You don’t have to give anything. If you can control you have to control. Saying that Gundo could have scored, and other ones could have missed. It’s not about that. I admire that Gundo wanted to take responsibility to take the penalty. That is the best value as a player. Normally the taker is the taker, Erling has to take it, he’s the specialist.”
What was a team move according to Haaland could have cost the title to Manchester City. Leeds United struck within a minute of Gundo missing the penalty and scared Manchester United in the dying minutes of the game. Yes, Gundogan was strong with confidence having scored two goals from outside the box to either corner of the post but is he as confident as a guy who can score goals with his eyes closed and knows the exact dimensions of the goalpost?
Many questions come up to our minds and we as the followers of Erling would have wanted his name on the scoresheet even if it was for the sake of Gundogan’s hat trick. Erling, if you are reading this, the fans want you to slot from the 18 yards always, no matter what.