Guardiola could serve up a Gundo-ban over wife’s grumble

Pep Guardiola will never get sick of talking about Erling Haaland, but he insists comparisons to Lionel Messi are unwelcome.

The Manchester City boss has promised striker Haaland a holiday during the World Cup, because Norway have not qualified, and he may need a break in any case after a breathless start to his career in England.

Haaland has a staggering 14 goals from eight Premier League games already, and Mohamed Salah’s record of 32 goals in a 38-game season already looks under serious threat. Kevin De Bruyne was City’s top league scorer last season with 15.

Former Borussia Dortmund striker Haaland has stayed healthy and the goals have flowed, just as City’s title rivals feared they would.

At this rate, Haaland could finish the season with the sort of haul Messi often brought in for Barcelona during his prime years, regularly scoring more than 50 across all competitions.

Guardiola has been fortunate to coach them both, and he was asked whether the attention foisted on Haaland was the most he has known since having Messi under his wing at Barcelona.

“The people who compare Erling with Leo, I think we don’t help,” Guardiola said. “How many ‘new Messis’ appeared in the world of football since I started? Ten, 15?

“Always you fail. Erling has to do his own career, his own job. He’s a different player.”

Guardiola pointed to the number of times he is asked about Haaland. He also suggested that within other teams, such focus on a big-time player might cause unrest.

“For me, it’s OK,” Guardiola said. “We’re fortunate that the guys who are here accept it perfectly. At other clubs, other people, would not like it.

“Here they are delighted. We have Kevin [De Bruyne] who is an exceptional person and is happy to have him, because both know they can be better playing alongside [each other].

“The same for all of them. We don’t have incredible players who say, ‘Why do they always talk about just him?’.

“This is why it’s a joy to train this type of players.”

Guardiola said he would rather Haaland was playing at the World Cup.

“But he’s young, and he’ll have an opportunity in four years,” added the City boss. “Fans want to see the best players possible and Erling is one of them.”

With three hat-tricks in his last three Premier League home games, capped by last week’s treble against Manchester United, Haaland is on a special streak.

Southampton visit the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, and while they held City to home and away draws last season, that was before Haaland arrived.

City are the only unbeaten team in the Premier League, following Tottenham’s defeat to Arsenal last week, and have won their last eight home games in the competition, scoring three or more goals each time.

Aston Villa were the last team to have a longer run of top-flight home wins while scoring three-plus goals in each game, putting a run of 13 together between December 1930 and September 1931.

Perhaps City will threaten that mark, if Haaland stays fit and in form. Guardiola is bewitched by his striker’s movement and how he reads play.

“It’s just the fact there’s a deflection, and he’s there. Why does the ball finish where he is?” said the Spaniard.

“What can I teach? It’s complete instincts, it’s natural. He did it in Norway, in Austria, in Germany, and he’s doing it here.”

And yet Guardiola still feels Haaland can improve.

“Every player knows, ‘I can do better’,” said Guardiola. “In our life we ​​have a chance to always improve until we die, and he’s not an exception.”

Guardiola is not blind to the potential for Haaland to break records this season.

“It would be good,” Guardiola said. “If he continues this rhythm, then you do n’t have to be a clever person to realize it, but he who knows.

“After the Community Shield some people had a lot of doubts; now they have a lot of certainties.

“At the end of the season we’ll see, okay, he’s scored how many goals, how many chances have we had to win the titles?”