Ex-coach provides insight into the development of the Norwegian

Erling Haaland will be on the field for the last time for BVB in the Bundesliga match against Hertha BSC on Saturday.Photo: imago photos / district photo

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Erling Haaland’s youth national coach Pål Arne Johansen remembers the Norwegian’s beginnings and reveals what sets him apart from other young stars.

13/05/2022, 15:1513/05/2022, 15:21

Nikolaj Stubner
Luke Grybowski

The Belgian midfield star made it clear on Wednesday night how much Kevin de Bruyne is looking forward to Erling Haaland in Manchester City. Like Erling Haaland a year ago, he celebrated his third goal in the 5-1 win over Wolverhampton with a yoga celebration.

His former youth coach Pål Arne Johansen also believes that the Bruyne / Haaland duo will harmonize in Manchester. Man City is the only European top club that has no “super striker” in their ranks. “It’s a very smart move because it fills a gap in their game,” the 45-year-old told watson.

“At the start of the second half, he saw the red card because he commented on some of the linebacker’s decisions.”

Erling Haaland’s youth national coach Pål Arne Johansen

That Erling Haaland already at this young age is seen in a row with European top strikers, is primarily related to a red card and a phenomenal 5-2 victory of the Norwegian national team over the German U-17 national team in 2018.

Haaland flies off the field but impresses the national coach

The then U-17 national coach for Norway noticed Haaland’s offensive spirit early on. In January 2017, when Johansen actually wanted to see teammates who were a year older than during training, the 21-year-old caught sight immediately. “He ran around celebrating goals but did not defend“, he says laughing.

In September 2017, the U-17 team lacked a real striker from their age group, and Johansen remembered Haaland. But when he was a year younger than his teammates, the current coach of the Norwegian first division club Odds BK wanted to get a picture under competitive conditions. But he could not really see much of him.

Pål Arne Johansen (right) replaces Erling Haaland during the U-20 World Cup.

Pål Arne Johansen (right) replaces Erling Haaland during the U-20 World Cup. Image: www.imago-images.de / bVEGARD WIVESTAD GR \ xc3 \ x98TT

At that time, Haaland played on Molde BK’s second team in the fourth Norwegian league and had to leave the field early in the 2-0 defeat against Kolstad.

“At the beginning of the second half, he saw the red card because he commented on some of the line judge’s decisions,” Johansen recalls. But the firing had no bearing on the young striker’s career.

“I liked his attitude and willpower and invited him to the U-17 team. He has been our number one striker ever since.“And that has not changed to this day.

Double package in the international match against Germany

He then played into the focus of the European top teams in the 5-2 victory over the German U-17 national team in March 2018. Haaland scored twice and “from that moment on I knew he was going to be a top player”says his former youth national team coach.

But his career took an unexpected turn. His current Dortmund coach Marco Rose hardly let him play after moving to Red Bull Salzburg in January 2019.

Haaland scored eight goals in six Champions League matches for RB Salzburg.

Haaland scored eight goals in six Champions League matches for RB Salzburg.Image: www.imago-images.de / GEPA pictures / Jasmin Walter

Johansen remembers the frustration that the striker traveled to the U-20 World Cup after not even playing 100 minutes in the first half of Austria. But his ambition was unleashed and he scored nine goals in a 12-0 victory over Honduras during the U-20 World Cup.

“After the match, he sat in the locker room annoyed because he had not scored ten goals”. It was the time when all the top European clubs suddenly had Haaland on their list.

Haaaland secret: enjoying football

And Haaland delivered. Instead of resting after the World Cup, he just took a four-day break and started training again. He was now in an incredible flow and also scored goal after goal in Salzburg under former Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch. The switch to BVB followed, where the star striker has scored an incredible 85 goals in 88 games so far.

His former coach explains: “For many young strikers, the number of goals goes up and down all the time. But it’s incredible how consistently Erling delivers. He scores for Salzburg, Dortmund and the national team.”

The secret behind this is obvious to Johansen:

“It’s the combination of the great joy of playing football that he has preserved to this day, and his incredibly professional lifestyle.”

This included adequate sleep, some social media and special glasses that protect his eyes from the blue light from monitors.

And despite the hype surrounding him, the Norwegian superstar has not changed. “I have seen many young players at times struggle with their sudden fame, but he takes it easy.

Ex-coach warns against too high expectations for Haaland in Man City

It is clear that the attention will not diminish with his start in Manchester City. Nothing is expected of Haaland other than goals as on the assembly line. And to ensure that the Citizens finally win the Champions League.

However, Johansen warns against expecting too much too soon. Haaland should have much more time to adapt to the new style of play, the new league and the new environment.

“He wants more chances to score goals and perform much better.”

Erling Haaland’s youth national coach Pål Arne Johansen

And Johansen is also sure that players like Phil Foden or Kevin de Bruyne will have a big influence on Haaland. “He wants more chances to score goals and perform much better.”

But for that he must be on the field. During his time at BVB, he was often absent with muscle injuries. And in England, the number of competitive games is much higher than in Germany.

That does not worry his former coach. “He’s still young and used to playing every three days. Together with the Man City staff, they will make it.” It is important to check your training load.

And then Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland can look forward to hits with the yoga cheer.

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