What Man City have got right with Erling Haaland off the pitch this season

Chelsea don’t have much to shout about this season, but they became the first English side this season not to concede an Erling Haaland goal since his arrival at Manchester City.

That’s where the frontman’s shortfalls end, though. Liverpool kept him out in the Premier League but felt his wrath in December’s League Cup tie. The long locks were out swinging when he fired home in the 4-1 home league win over Arsenal.

There was the hat-trick against Manchester United and the strike away at Newcastle in the first half of the season. Take your pick, many of his record breaking 36-goal haul in the Premier League could be classed as defining.

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But perhaps one statistic that has gone under the radar is the amount of games he’s featured in. Haaland has already hit his half-century in his debut campaign, marking his 50th appearance by lifting the Premier League title. Not bad.

He can increase his tally by four with City in both the FA Cup and Champions League finals. Haaland has already played 20 more matches than last season and is currently enjoying his busiest campaign.

The most amount of matches he had played in a single season prior to this was 41 in the 2020/21 season at Borussia Dortmund. That year, he suffered four separate injuries and missed 14 matches. Last term, he suffered three injuries and sat out 16 matches. This season? Two injuries, three matches missed.

In April, Pep Guardiola was asked about Haaland’s renewed durability and was quick to praise one area of his backroom team in particular.

“I don’t know what he’s done in Dortmund but we take care of him 24 hours – we have incredible doctors and physios. They are behind him every second of the day,” he said.

“It’s difficult to understand why you’d spend a lot of money and then leave them, but I don’t know what the other clubs do. With this demanding schedule of games every three or four days we have to take care of them – with nutrition, rest, sleep, food. We know we have to keep a watch because he’s so big. Physios, massage, backs, shoulders, tendons, everything.”

Back in September, eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that City physio Mario Pafundi had travelled with Haaland to Norway during the international break. Guardiola was surprised by the reaction.

“It’s not weird, when there are European Cups or World Cups many physios go with players,” he insisted. “Always I said to the club the most important department is the physios.

“Erling struggled a lot in Dortmund. Thanks to them [physios] and other guys he plays every game, last season wasn’t possible. The clubs earn a lot of money when players can play and most of the time it’s thanks to the physios. Mario and Erling like each other and he asked him to go to Norway.”

It cannot be downplayed how vital the medical science and practice behind Haaland’s season has been. There would have been no record Premier League haul if he had been out as long as he had been at Dortmund.

There will also be no let up for the next few weeks and you can be sure Guardiola will be showing his appreciation for the medical staff at the end of the season.