Man City

Erling Haaland has started life in fine fashion at Manchester City. The Norwegian striker has simply picked up from where he left off at Borussia Dortmund. He’s scoring goals, he’s hitting hat-tricks, and he’s making a difference. His impact has been such that plenty of pundits and journalists believe that Haaland might be the key to unlocking the holy grail for Man City – the UEFA Champions League.

On the face of it, it’s easy to see why sports analysts point to Haaland as being the difference-maker for City. Almost every year for the past half dozen campaigns, City have started the competition as favorites to lift the famous trophy. Indeed, they are also clear favorites this year, with odds of 5/2 according to Mr Green betting online. Others, like PSG and Liverpool, are given odds of 5/1 or above. The bookies believe that Haaland puts City in a strong position. After all, he is one of Europe’s best goal scorers, and he already looks at home in the city of Manchester.

One player rarely makes the difference

And yet, despite commonly held assertions, it’s quite rare to see one superstar signing unlock a team’s fortunes. Yes, City are already one of the established best teams in the world, and Haaland should improve them further. But football is a team game, and the arrival of one superstar will not guarantee Champions League glory for the Manchester club.

Indeed, so many times in the past, we have seen major signings come into big clubs with the narrative that they are the ones to lead them to the promised land. It hasn’t worked for Neymar and Messi at Paris Saint-Germain, and it did not work for Juventus when Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Turin. We could cite so many other examples.

Of course, none of this says that City won’t win the Champions League this season. They are bookies’ favorites for a reason. And, we might add that they probably would have been favourites without the addition of Haaland. The striker adds something a little bit different to City’s attack, while at the same time being conducive to Pep Guardiola’s tactics and style of play. As we said, he improves an already great team.

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Goals were never a problem for City

But there is also an assumption that City were lacking goals last season. The team scored 18 goals in the Group Stage in 2021/22. They also beat Sporting Lisbon 5-0 in the Round of 16, and they scored five across two-legs against Real Madrid in the Semi-Finals. Goals were not the problem. And, if you were wondering, they also scored 99 goals in the Premier League – more than any other team.

The point, as such, is that it’s probably a little too early to be speaking of Haaland as a messianic figure destined to deliver the Champions League to Man City’s ambitious owners. City have had great goal scorers before, including Sergio Aguero, and have come up short when it matters. The team, like everyone who wins the Champions League, needs a little luck along the way. They also need to show some steel when it matters.

Great teams get the job done when under pressure; City bucked when faced with that pressure against Real Madrid last season. It’s not quite clear where or how Erling Haaland could have helped in that situation in the Semi-Final. It always takes an entire squad to deliver the top prizes. When City’s rivals, Manchester United, won the Champions League to complete The Treble in 1999, it was due to the fact the team had a rotation of four strikers, not a lone figure to deliver the trophy Sir Alex Ferguson wanted so badly. City might win it all next year, but it will be only due to the collective mettle and quality shown by the squad and manager.

Golam Muktadir is a passionate sports fan and a dedicated movie buff. He has been writing about both topics for over a decade and has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with his readers. Muktadir has a degree in journalism and has written for several well-known publications, including Surprise Sports and Surprise Movies.


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