What a difference a week makes for Erling Haaland.
He couldn’t hit a barn door in Manchester City’s Community Shield loss to Liverpool, but a brace on his Premier League debut against West Ham shows Manchester City have a better player.
Haaland’s heroism has drawn praise from some former pros – even slightly grudgingly in the case of former Liverpool pro and fan Adebayo Akinfenwa.
Akinfenwa, who joined The Boot Room alongside Alex Crook and Darren Ambrose, said: “You know what, that was when he kicked the penalty, and you know a player is the real deal when the other players come out and say ‘boy, that’s a finisher.’
“He’s going to score lots of goals and I hate that! I hate that!”
Meanwhile, the Premier League’s all-time top scorer Alan Shearer has challenged the Norwegian to break his record.
“@ErlingHaaland 258 to go!!!!” the former Newcastle star tweeted out City’s new striker after the game, accompanied by a few laughing faces.
Haaland’s performance was completely at odds with his woes at the King Power Stadium last weekend where he missed two glorious chances, the worst of which saw him hitting the crossbar from just six yards out.
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He’s taken a lot of social media batting for the duds, but Haaland is really constructed differently and reminds Ambrose of an iconic movie character.
Akinfenwa added: “He doesn’t seem fazed. It’s when you know someone is a problem.
Ambrose replied, “He’s like Ivan Drago in Rocky. He has this stern face that shows that nothing bothers him.
“If he misses chances, he won’t care.”
And Man City boss Pep Guardiola has warned any Haaland doubters that his legacy will stand the test of time.
Guardiola said after the match: “A week ago when he missed the chances he had [against Liverpool]and it is a failure.
“People said he wouldn’t fit in the Premier League and everyone laughed at him, now it’s Thierry Henry or Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Take the time, it’s his first Premier League game, he’s 22 and has a long career ahead of him.
“When he retires, and I hope he stays at Man City for many years, we will analyze what he has done.
“So calm down…we know what we have to do, we know his qualities…and then we’ll see.”