Man United legend Solskjaer

Avatar of Lily Carlile.
Avatar of Lily Carlile.

Man United legend Solskjaer

Erling Haaland tells all on how he was taught how to head the ball powerfully by Man United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when at Molde having struggled aerially

Erling Haaland worked under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Norwegian club Molde

Man United legend Solskjaer noticed the tall striker couldn't head the ball well

Haaland has revealed they worked on heading constantly on the training ground

Now, the Man City striker has a potent header and scores regularly that way

He will be hoping to down Solskjaer's old club Man City in Sunday's derby 

Erling Haaland has revealed Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taught him how to head the ball properly as he prepares for his first derby with Manchester City.

The Norwegian has started life in the Premier League in incredible fashion with 11 goals in just seven outings and Haaland will be desperate to add to that total at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Much has been made of the 6ft 5in Haaland's aerial battle with United's 5ft 9in centre-back Lisandro Martinez.

And Haaland, 22, has spoken about the pivotal role ex-United striker and manager Solskjaer played in developing this particularly powerful facet of his game

'I wasn't scared of it, but when you're really new to something, you're wondering how to do it.

'Then when I joined Molde with Ole, he was like "you cannot head, we have to start doing this."

'So almost every single day, I got crosses from him and [assistant coach] Mark Dempsey and I was heading them in.

'Mark was throwing the ball quite easily, I was standing at five metres [out] and he was in the goal. I tired to head it straight and we did it so much.

'There's nothing better than when you practise something and you see the results, thinking 'this is getting easier' or finally scoring a goal with your head. Then that's also a motivation to become better.'

Haaland has scored headed goals in City's victories over Crystal Palace and Nottingham Forest during the early weeks of the season.

City remain unbeaten in seven league fixtures so far this season and are second in the table behind Arsenal, who beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-1 on Saturday.

They come up against a United team slowly gaining form under their new manager Erik ten Hag and who have won four consecutive league matches.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Ten Hag said: “We want to play our game and that is clear. With our principles and rules.

"We always respect the opponent; it doesn't matter the opponent. We will try to play our game.”

Speaking about his opponent and former co-worker Pep Guardiola, Ten Hag was complimentary.

“Of course, we both think that we know everything about each other, but when we were together it was already eight years ago and as a manager one of things you have to always do is develop.

"I hope he did as I know I did as well.”

The line-ups have been confirmed.

It’s rare that in a 6-3 loss, a player can leave with his head held high. But an exception to that came today, with Anthony Martial scoring two having come on in the 59th minute with United 4-1 down.

United would concede a further two, but the Frenchman would pull two back for his side. First, following through Fred’s shot which was parried by Ederson, then putting away a penalty that he won.

A lot has been made of the fact that Martial is Ten Hag’s preferred centre-forward in this side, and now that he is back to fitness United must do whatever it takes to keep him fit. 

Two goals and an assist in less than 90 minutes this season is an impressive record for United’s number nine, and many more will be expected to come should he keep fit.

#2: Ten Hag’s work isn’t finished, nowhere near

With United’s run of results prior to this game, one could be forgiven that things were on the up at Manchester United. 

But the road back to the top is more of a mountain, an upwards climb with some really rocky periods. Today was a blip, these results are part of the process and fans need to understand this and temper expectations.

#3: United lost their nerve too early, lost them the game

The yellow card on Diogo Dalot in the opening moments of the game felt like a crucial moment for United. Whether or not it should have been given can be debated, but United seemed to completely lose their edge as a result of it.

This edge never truly recovered, and ultimately City were able to tear United apart down the wings as a result of it. United will need far greater mental resilience going forwards.

#4: Too much space in midfield, Casemiro needs to come into the team

Another reason United lost the game was for a similar reason they’ve lost games in recent years: there was a chasm of space in midfield.

Haaland’s second goal was the perfect example of this, the centre of the pitch was completely open for Kevin de Bruyne.

With one of the greatest defensive midfielders of all time sitting on the bench, United were torn apart in situations he is renowned for stopping, and has stopped against Guardiola’s side in the past.

One notable absence from United’s starting lineups in recent weeks has been another Brazilian midfielder in Fred.

Despite arguably being United’s most impressive player last season, Fred has found himself on the bench in recent weeks with Mctominay being chosen to partner Eriksen instead, and doing it well.

Today, United’s midfield was non-existent before changes were made. Once changes were made, however, things picked up a little.

In 20 minutes Fred brought his usual intensity, completed all of his passes (including two key passes) and forced the Ederson parry for Martial’s first goal. 

A change is needed, and in United’s next league game one option could be to utilise a midfield pairing that have plenty of experience together at international level in Fred and Casemiro.