Erling Haaland’s first season in England was marked by 36 Premier League goals, 52 goals overall, a Premier League championship medal, and a European champion. However, his injury history stands out as one of the season’s most notable features.
The Manchester City striker only missed two league games due to injury all season. In May, he was not included in the starting lineup against Brentford because City needed to focus on getting ready for the FA Cup final match against Manchester United the following weekend.
Haaland was therefore a member of City’s matchday squad for 36 of their 38 Premier League games last season. When it comes to the number of games he was available for in a season before moving to England, the Norwegian striker had never been able to surpass the 30 mark.
One of the few concerns, after it was confirmed that Haaland would move to the Etihad, was how City would deal with his problematic injury history, but Pep Guardiola’s careful management and outstanding work behind the scenes have meant the youngster has been available for City almost every single week.
Even though City has taken every precaution to prevent minor injuries, 99 percent of football players will eventually have to sit out a game, no matter how prepared and committed they may be. Because of Haaland’s extraordinary talent, every team in the globe would be adversely affected by his absence.
Fortunately for City, Guardiola has put together what is arguably the best team in football right now, and should Haaland’s shoes ever need to be filled, there are elite players ready and eager to be released.
If he gets hurt this year, the main problem is that Guardiola has just lost the player who has stepped up for City anytime Haaland has been sidelined.
Haaland missed the decisive 4-1 victory over Liverpool and the 1-0 triumph over Leicester due to injury last season. In the first match, Kevin De Bruyne scored the game-winning free kick at the King Power Stadium. In the victory over Jurgen Klopp’s team, he was perhaps the finest player on the field as he scored the second goal of the afternoon and provided an assist for the fourth.
De Bruyne once again cut a dejected figure as he hobbled off the Turf Moor pitch on the first day of the 2023–24 season. He had to leave the Champions League final early because the hamstring problem he had been battling for months finally got the better of him.
A revised comeback date was issued by Guardiola last week after he hinted De Bruyne might be absent for “four to five months” rather than the three to four months he initially predicted the Belgian star would miss.
De Bruyne’s likely absence till the new year leaves City without not only one of their talismans but also one of their top contenders to fill in for Haaland if necessary.
Since moving to England, City has done an excellent job of managing Haaland’s workload, but with the Club World Cup coming up in December and Haaland not receiving the mid-season break he received last season after Norway failed to qualify for the World Cup, City may need to be even more cautious with their star striker.