Pep Guardiola wants Manchester City to find a way to get Erling Haaland more involved in their all-round play.
City went down 2-1 to local rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford on Saturday, paving the way for Arsenal to take an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League thanks to their victory at Tottenham a day later.
Haaland, who has scored 21 league goals in 17 appearances for City, had two shots against United, with an accumulative expected goals (xG) of 0.16, and generally struggled to make an impact.
His tally of 20 touches was the fifth-lowest total he has managed in a Premier League match this season, while in only three games has he had fewer than the five touches he had in United’s box.
Haaland has had 419 touches in the league this season, which ranks ahead of only Julian Alvarez (178) when it comes to City players to have featured at least 10 times in the competition, and while he has averaged a goal every 66 minutes, Guardiola knows City have to get the 22-year-old regularly involved.
“Yes,” Guardiola told reporters when asked if City needed to get the ball to Haaland quicker.
“At the moment we have that process because when teams are sat in the 18-yard box it’s more difficult but then we have to find him a little bit more.
“[Against United] he had enough touches but it’s true that we go wide sometimes we have to look at him. But we will do it.”
When asked whose responsibility it was to ensure Haaland is receiving the ball more regularly, Guardiola said: “Everyone.
“When you have the ball, everyone is allowed to attack and when you don’t you have to defend.”
City have been unable to hit their stride since the season restarted following the World Cup break.
A win over Leeds United was followed up by a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Everton on December 31.
Successive wins over Chelsea, the latter of which was a 4-0 FA Cup thrashing, seemed to have got them back on track, though their derby defeat represented a second loss in the space of four days after their EFL Cup exit at the hands of Southampton.
“I would say the inconsistency was in terms of some results but not in the performances,” Guardiola said when it was put to him that incorporating an out-and-out striker was leading to the team’s indifferent form.
“The inconsistency was against Southampton but in general, the consistency in our games was good, I think. But, of course, against Everton, we played much, much better. One shot on target and we draw. They punished us.
“Before we always found a way to get good results by playing good or bad. We always had the chance and I think I would say this is our strength and you have to improve but in terms of performance, we’ve been consistent in general.
“The margin is so minimal, but I want to recognise my team. I want to see that we do what we work [on], [what] we talk and plan and I saw it.”