Haaland scored 52 goals in an extraordinary debut campaign at City last season and, on the face of it, has started this one strongly too with seven in eight appearances.
Yet analysis shows he has missed 12 ‘big chances’ this term, nine of them being in his last two outings against West Ham and Red Star Belgrade. After eight games last season he had scored 12 goals, with eight ‘big chances’ missed.
“I will not sleep tonight!” Guardiola joked when these numbers were put to him at a press conference to preview the champions Premier League clash with Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
“He has had incredible chances and he could have scored 14-15 goals now. What is important is he always says, ‘I have the chance, I have the chance, I have the chance. The problem is when I do not have chances, or I do not get balls or I am in the wrong position’.
“My advice is don’t criticise Erling too much. Criticise the full-back, the central defender or the manager, but never, never the striker who scored all those goals because he will and then you will be in a position where you have to apologise to him.”
Guardiola concedes Haaland was not fully fit at the start of the season, but that is not unexpected after last year’s exertions.
He said: “No (he was not fully fit) – it is quite simple – but in the pre-season I cannot expect him to be fully fit.
“Normally the new players come and are fully fit earlier. When you don’t start the last season, you are fitter earlier.
“When you win the treble maybe you think, ‘I wait a week longer to be completely fit’. It is a question of time.
“Erling is much better than in the first week. Every week he is better and everything is there.
“He is an incredible threat. He has had a lot of chances and that means we are playing good. Always I have the sense that the team are doing quite good by the number of chances Erling has.”