They say everything is bigger in Texas and we got a glimpse of the towering figure of Erling Haaland on the first leg of this US tour – but no more than that.
After making four appearances for Norway in the Nations League last month (in which he scored five goals), the striker has undergone an individual training program to ensure he is fit for the City’s first Premier League game of the season – at West Ham. Sunday, August 7, live on sky sports.
Despite being named on the bench, Haaland didn’t even warm up ahead of the 2-1 win over Club America in Houston in the early hours of Thursday morning. The £51million summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund was briefly shown on the big screen at the NRG stadium wearing a City tracksuit rather than his match kit, confirming that Pep Guardiola had never intended to leave. give him playing time here.
Haaland has been the talk of the town even without playing and the suggestion is that – all good – we’ll finally see him take to the pitch in Green Bay against Bayern Munich this weekend.
Alvarez looks set to step into Pep’s machine
Away from Haaland, all eyes pre-match were on what form City would use given the change in personnel over the summer. But when Julian Alvarez – River Plate’s newest signing – started up front in the center of an attacking trio, there didn’t seem to be too much of a difference to the way City lined up for much of it. of last season.
The Argentine showed a willingness to run behind and also plenty of energy to drop deep and come back. Afterwards, Guardiola was beaming when asked to comment on how he felt about new players, and in Alvarez he feels like he has someone who can fit right into his machine well. oiled.
Phillips helps cover City’s shortage of defenders
Another of the new arrivals, Kalvin Phillips, wasn’t too happy to be used as a centre-back by Marcelo Bielsa for Leeds, but his first touches in a City shirt also came at the heart of defence. City are lacking options at the back and their problems were compounded when Ruben Dias was checked into his hotel room the day before the game after feeling unwell. This meant Luke Mbete linking up with Nathan Ake in the first half before an assured Phillips replaced Ake for the second.
Phillips said Guardiola told him he was going to talk to Bielsa about him – but he might not be very happy if it turns out Bielsa recommended him for the defender job, even though he was playing with him a calm that suggested he could do it. Again.
Grealish, any action, annoys the opposition
Jack Grealish still feels like a relatively new kid in the city block despite now entering his second season at the Etihad – and there’s no doubt it’s a big campaign for the record finish of last summer. The England international started on the left of the front three and was all in action from the first minute, showing his class with a series of labyrinthine runs, although most ended with a Club America defender.
At various times, Grealish waved his arms, protested to the referee, got pushed around by other players, and was loudly booed by Mexican fans. As another witness in the press gallery suggested, it would have been a good night to play Grealish Bingo. A goal would have been nice but positive signs were there.
De Bruyne starts the season where he left off
But while it still feels like Grealish has questions to answer in a City shirt, we don’t know much about Kevin De Bruyne and it was his two goals that earned him a standing ovation when he finally did. been replaced with 20 minutes to go. .
The first strike was of typical individual brilliance as he curled in a right foot from the edge of the box. The second owed as much to a decisive pass from Riyad Mahrez as to the movement of the Belgian to sneak up behind.
In Haaland’s absence, it was perhaps fitting that City’s talisman be their proven game-winner in the Lone Star State.