Gary Neville brands Erling Haaland as unfair and compares Man City striker to James Bond villain – Sky Sports

  • September 20, 2022


Manchester City were held by Aston Villa on Saturday Night Football but Erling Haaland scored his 10th goal of the season; Manchester United beat Arsenal on Super Sunday in a weekend that was dominated by VAR complaints
Football Expert
Monday 5 September 2022 18:45, UK
On the latest Gary Neville Podcast, the Sky Sports pundit discusses why Erling Haaland will fire Manchester City to the title, and what comes next for Leicester and VAR after difficult weekends.
There’s things happening this season that are not smooth but I anticipate Manchester City will win this league, and they could win it comfortably.
Erling Haaland is… it just looks a bit unfair. I remember when I watched James Bond films when I was younger and there was the character Jaws, who was about 7ft 2in. He used to just pick people up and chuck them on the floor, and it’s a little bit like that when you watch Haaland against strong centre-backs. You think, ‘wow, he’s just unplayable – how do you even cope with him in the box?’.
The one thing I would say is Haaland’s career at City will probably prolong his overall career, because he’s just standing there. The way Manchester City play, with that possession that they keep, you never really see him stretching teams, other than when they get one or two in front.
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I just have to say that I’m massively impressed with him. It’s the first time we’ve signed what I believe to be one of the top two or three players in the world for the future. Ordinarily, those players go to Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid or Barcelona. Cristiano Ronaldo, when he became the best player in the world here [at Manchester United] or maybe Thierry Henry at Arsenal, they didn’t sign as prospects to be the best player in the world, they just developed to being that when they were here.
But this player – you fully anticipate he’s going to go on and win Ballon d’Ors and be the best player in the world. That’s exciting – that’s not happened for quite a while in the Premier League.
Well done to Erik ten Hag. The manager must take credit for what he did in that week between Brentford and Liverpool because I thought they would have been beaten and difficult to pick up. To do what he did between Brentford and Liverpool and to get the result was something special as a recovery.
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And then on Super Sunday, I think they played against a really good Arsenal team. I have to say, Arsenal showed a spirit at Old Trafford. We’ve covered Arsenal for 10 to 12 years and we’ve come away from it and gone, ‘that’s a flaky mob, it’s a soft bunch’. They’re a really good side.
Arsenal and United are not the two best teams in the league going off of what has happened to them in the last few years but I have to say they’re a lot nearer to where I thought they would be a few weeks ago.
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Some people will say it’s the manager. Some people will say it’s the changes that have been made with regards to Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire being left out. Do you know something? I will point to a little thing that I saw in the second half of the Brentford game and that’s Tyrell Malacia. Someone on the pitch with a bit of personality, fight and spirit.
And to be fair to Lisandro Martinez who wasn’t on the pitch in that second half against Brentford because he was substituted. But against Liverpool there was some tenacity and from that, what you’re seeing is Diogo Dalot is a lot more aggressive. The midfield players are a bit more aggressive. It takes just one to show leadership, it doesn’t have to be the shouter or the captain.
Man United, two or three weeks ago, I thought they were beaten. And I said if they didn’t add to that squad after Brentford, they would end up in the bottom half of the table. They won’t end up in the bottom half of the table now, they won’t win the league. But they can have a better season than we all imagined. They had to spend £230m to get there.
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VAR has had a very, very bad weekend and it’s brought it back to the fore. The people who are against it and think it destroys the ethos of the game, they now obviously have something to go on. It won’t go away, let’s be really clear. What they’ll have to do is just get better at it.
We forget the amount of times that VAR is right with offsides and other decisions where we just take it for granted. There are always going to be those subjective ones whereby they get thrown over to the side of the pitch.
Now we’ve transferred some of that pressure to VAR so I have to say, whichever way you look at it, we’re now talking about whether the actual stopping of the game is the reason. The fact we have to look at it 20 times is something that the fans don’t like. I’m a fan of more accurate decision-making and I’m a fan of technology in sport, however what I’m not a fan of is giving the fans a game that they don’t like as much.
One of the biggest problems is that the VAR referees are sat remotely in a studio 250 miles away on their own, detached completely from the emotion of the game and are asked to make a decision. I think it’s really difficult. When I went to Stockley Park to look at VAR with Carra [Jamie Carragher] before it got introduced and I’m thinking: the stadium is bouncing, an on-field referee has got a feeling of the atmosphere in the game and then they go to this very cold sanitised studio 300 miles away and he’s looking at some replays?
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He’s probably having a cup of tea one minute, he’s watching the game the next – I’m sure he’s more alert than that – but it just doesn’t feel right, that’s the bit that I’m struggling with a little bit.
I think things were working a lot better so it’s just a setback this weekend but it’s a bad one because there’s some big noise out there against it and it won’t go away, but neither will VAR – they’re not going to scrap it.
It’s been operated better abroad at times than it has done in this country. We’ve got to get better at it, but we are getting better. Some of the refereeing performances I’ve seen have been absolutely brilliant, however VAR has had a shocking weekend. We’ve all had them.
I really worry about Leicester. I have to say, earlier on in the season when Kasper Schmeichel went to Nice, I thought ‘why’s that one been sanctioned?’. Schmeichel is not only a very good goalkeeper, but you imagine the presence and the impact he’d have on that dressing room, and the comfort he would give to everybody.
You can’t replace that easily, you just can’t. They’ve lost Harry Maguire before, they’ve lost N’Golo Kante, Riyad Mahrez – but I just thought it was a strange thing to do. Then obviously Wesley Fofana has left as well – I would be worried if I was a Leicester fan.
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There’s rumours that the manager is in trouble. Brendan Rodgers has done a brilliant job there. He expected the window to go better – I think everybody did. Leicester have been like Brighton: when they’ve let players go, they’ve brought other ones in. But you look at what’s happening there now and I’m worried for Brendan, and I’m worried for Leicester.
They look in a bit of trouble and it doesn’t look like it’s right there. When you demoralise a dressing room and a coaching staff with the players that leave, it’s very difficult to recover that.
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