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Guardiola: If you criticize Haaland, you'll end up apologizing to him

Martin Rickett - PA Images / PA Images / Getty

Pep Guardiola has ridiculed claims he should be concerned about the number of big chances Erling Haaland has missed for Manchester City this season.

Haaland scored 52 goals in an extraordinary debut campaign last season as City powered to the treble.

The Norway striker has already netted seven times in eight appearances this term.

But analysis shows he has missed 12 big opportunities, nine of them in his last two games against West Ham and Red Star Belgrade. 

"I will not sleep tonight!" Guardiola joked when told of the statistic ahead of Saturday's Premier League game against Nottingham Forest.

"He has had incredible chances and he could have scored 14-15 goals now. What is important is he always says, 'I have the chance, I have the chance, I have the chance. The problem is when I do not have chances, or I do not get balls or I am in the wrong position.'

"My advice is don't criticize Erling too much. Criticize the full-back, the central defender or the manager, but never, never the striker who scored all those goals because he will and then you will be in a position where you have to apologize to him."

Guardiola conceded Haaland was not fully fit at the start of the season, but that is not unexpected after last year's exertions.

"No, he was not fully fit. It is quite simple but in the preseason I cannot expect him to be fully fit," he said.

"Normally the new players come and are fully fit earlier. When you don't start the last season, you are fitter earlier.

"When you win the treble, maybe you think, 'I wait a week longer to be completely fit.' It is a question of time."

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