Pep Guardiola appreciates having Erling Haaland’s “special quality” at his disposal but is adamant Manchester City will not win the Champions League by relying solely on the Norwegian.
Haaland has enjoyed a tremendous start to life at City, scoring 10 goals in his first six Premier League games to equal the division’s record for the fewest matches required to reach double-figures.
Before the season began, some suggested Haaland might require a bit of time to get up to speed, but his early form has made a mockery of his critics.
However, many feel that making a difference in the Premier League is not the reason for City signing Haaland, rather he was purchased to be decisive when the margins are much smaller – in the Champions League.
Despite massive investment ever since their 2008 takeover, the Champions League title has eluded City, who have reached the final only once.
The hope is an already exceptional City side finally have what they were missing in Haaland, but Guardiola recognises the need to not take him for granted.
“All the players, they try to make us better, otherwise it makes no sense,” he told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s Group G opener against Sevilla.
“That helps us to win titles? I don’t know. If we rely all on Erling’s shoulders, we don’t win the Champions League. We try to create chances for him to score goals.
“We convinced him to come here, we felt we didn’t have many strikers. He tries to be involved in the way we play. He settles well like Julian [Alvarez] and other players.
“I understand everyone talks about Erling, but I have three, four, five new players and it’s important they all settle.
“We don’t win just for Erling and don’t lose just for Erling. He has a special quality and might be able to solve some problems, but if we don’t play good, we aren’t going to win games.”
Few will consider City anything other than overwhelming favourites on Tuesday, however.
They face a Sevilla side who have taken just one point from their first four LaLiga games and have the worst open play expected goals against record of all teams (6.3).
The departures of Jules Kounde and Diego Carlos have proven problematic, though Guardiola still considers their European pedigree as something to behold, recognising City’s history on the continent does not compare to Sevilla’s six UEFA Cup/Europa League crowns.
“It’s a club with history. I know this stadium. It’s a challenge, we want to be in the round of 16 soon because this Champions League is going to be played in no time,” he said.
“Surely they’re going to take us to the limit, we have to be prepared from the first minute because if it’s not like that, they run over you. More than tactics, you have to give a lot of importance to emotion in this competition.
“It will be difficult, the Spanish teams dominate in Europe. I’d love to have a story like Sevilla has, City are far away from Sevilla in Europe. This is a magnificent stadium, do not miss the show. We are going to try to win and get the three points.
“Sevilla are not going to worry only about defending, we have to be prepared because they are going to be aggressive. This competition is played with a lot of enthusiasm and even more so in a stadium like this. We have to be prepared for that. We have to pick up the pace.”