There was no goal for Erling Haaland on his home debut but Pep Guardiola insisted it was a matter of time before Manchester City fans get to see the best out of their marquee summer signing.
Haaland – who opened his account with a brace at West Ham last week – set up Ilkay Gundogan’s opener in a 4-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday, but could not take two chances of his own and was frustrated when Phil Foden failed to pick him out for what would have been an easy tap-in early on.
Haaland’s 19th-minute assist was his first touch of the game, and a 73rd-minute scuffed shot from a Jack Grealish cross moments before he was replaced by Julian Alvarez only his eighth of the match, but his movement pulled the Bournemouth defence apart to create the space for others.
“He plays the most difficult job in the world,” Guardiola said of the 22-year-old. “When you are a striker and in the defensive areas, teams like Bournemouth have three central defenders and two players in front and you are in the middle, how can you survive in that?
“It’s so difficult. We know it. We’ll find many situations. It’s just a question of time. The right moments, the right movements, and with the quality of the players we have behind him to assist him we’ll find him. I don’t have any doubts about that.
“We have seen it in the past with other teams. We have to be patient.”
City did not need a goal from Haaland on the day. Kevin De Bruyne added a second before teeing up Foden at the end of a sweeping counter-attack to leave Guardiola’s side in complete control by half-time, and a late own goal from Jefferson Lerma, forced by Joao Cancelo, capped a comfortable win.
“The team did a really good performance against a team that is well structured defensively and offensively as well with good patterns,” Guardiola added.
“They defend so deep, so narrow, you have to go outside. We started really well with three or four corners after just six or seven minutes, lots of chances. Phil did not see Erling in that position but we were patient.
“It was a warm day. It was not easy for so many reasons but we make a really, really good performance.”
It was a much harder day for Bournemouth, a reality check on the hardest the Premier League has to offer after their 2-0 win over Aston Villa on the opening day.
“We played against a world class team that can execute in any given moment,” Cherries manager Scott Parker said.
Great to be back at home! Felt so good to get on the scoresheet ⚽️💙 pic.twitter.com/dUF8RQTtP1
— Phil Foden (@PhilFoden) August 13, 2022
“I said before the game we need to have 11 men with 10 out of 10 performances and to ride our luck, we’re going to have to take the very few chances we’re going to get along with every other team that comes here.
“You have to be clinical. We didn’t manage to do that and then the quality they have shone through.
“After the goals go in you could be on the end of one but I was pleased with the team in the way they stuck at it with good endeavour, good personality and good courage. We can be pleased with that.
“Our season is not this. Man City away is not a team that will define our season. This is a game we need to analyse of course and we’ll do that and see where we can improve and get better. We’ll dust ourselves down and go again.”