Pep Guardiola has no doubt Erling Haaland will score goals for Manchester City but insists he does not care how many he gets.
The Premier League champions, who begin their title defence at West Ham on Sunday, secured the services of one of the most sought-after players in the world when Haaland’s move from Borussia Dortmund was announced in June.
However, the Norwegian’s debut did not go according to plan as he drew a blank in a 3-1 Community Shield loss to Liverpool.
Asked how many goals Haaland will score this season, Guardiola’s response was initially jovial as he replied: “You are the guy who’s going to ask me about Haaland at every press conference, right? Welcome to Manchester.”
He added: “I don’t know how many goals he’s going to score and I don’t care.
“We are not going to win for Erling and we are not going to lose for Erling. He has to be himself. From what I’ve seen he’s going to adapt quick.
“He played one week ago his first 90 minutes in five months. He’s a big figure in terms of physicality and needs maybe more time to get in the best condition.
“If people have doubts he’s going to score goals, he’s going to score goals.
“The chances are always there. He’s a good finisher, so just adapt the way he plays and we’re going to do that to him.
“At the same time I don’t have any doubts it’s going to happen.
“The goals he’s going to score, I don’t care.”
The schedule this term will present a new challenge as the Qatar World Cup falls in the middle of the campaign, taking place from November 21 to December 18.
Guardiola believes there are effectively two seasons within one, and acknowledged there is precious little room for error as City seek to fend off the persistent threat of Liverpool and other contenders.
“It’s like two Premier Leagues in one Premier League,” he said. “There’s one Premier League before the World Cup. You cannot win the Premier League [before the World Cup] but you can lose it.
“It’s not just Liverpool. They will not drop much, so this is why you have to start well. We won two Premier Leagues being just one point ahead of Liverpool. That means we are able to win 11, 12, 15 or 14 games in a row if we can do it. Liverpool as well.
“We proved ourselves we can do it in the past, and if you can do it in the past you can do it in the present. I have the feeling the rivals will not drop many points, we know.
“I have the feeling since we arrived… the team I rely on them a lot and I see in every training session that the guys are still out there. How they train every day. That makes me feel, okay, we’ll see what happens.
“I think we’re still there, we’ll be there, and that’s the most important thing. When I see the relations they have in the locker room and the incredible focus they have in training sessions, what we are doing so far is really good.
“We’ll see what happens in the good moments and the low moments in the season, how we react and how we behave.”