Thursday, September 28, 2023

Can Erling Haaland maintain his supreme scoring form in his second season at Manchester City?

The term ‘second season syndrome’ is usually applied to a team in their second season after promotion to the Premier League, when the initial fairytale feeling that may have accompanied their promotion has long since worn off, and the reality of top-flight football finally begins to bite.

The phrase is rarely applied to an individual player, but in the case of Erling Haaland, one wonders if he too will experience this same phenomenon, having made such a gargantuan impact on the Premier League in his maiden campaign for Manchester City last season. The Norwegian produced the greatest scoring season the league has ever seen, notching 36 goals in 35 Premier League games, for a total of 52 goals in 53 matches across all competitions.

Photo by Daniel Norin on Unsplash

Those figures are staggering, and surely it would take a monumental effort for Haaland to maintain that kind of form for a second season running. But this is a different beast we’re talking about. Throughout his career up to this point, the 23-year-old has demonstrated a distinct ability to improve year after year, to reach heights thought impossible. With Manchester City once again seen as heavy favourites in the Premier League odds 23/24, why couldn’t Haaland enjoy a similarly productive campaign once again?

He was blessed last season in that he avoided any serious injuries over the course of the campaign. A striker’s worst fear is to pick up the kind of injury setback that can see them miss an extended portion of the season. Not only does it rule one out for the time it takes to recover, but it takes time for a player (and particularly a striker) to get back into the swing of things and build up their match sharpness.

With a full pre-season behind him, there shouldn’t be too many concerns for Haaland. Then again, his second season at Borussia Dortmund saw him struggle with injuries, so it will be interesting to see whether the ghosts of the past come back to haunt him.

Another reason why Haaland might not reach the same heights as last season would be if City were to suffer a dip as a team. Having claimed a historic treble last season, many will argue that there can only be a natural dip in performance off the back of it. You only need to look at Liverpool last season off the back of their quest for a quadruple the year before to understand the mental and physical toll such efforts can have.

But given City’s vast resources, and Pep Guardiola’s innate ability to get his team performing to the best of their abilities week after week, you would expect them to still be challenging for all the major honours come the end of the season.

Haaland’s form will play a major part in whether they will be able to do it. Some will argue that, sooner or later, the Norwegian will suffer a dip in form, or a season where he doesn’t quite hit the same heights. Manchester City’s supporters will be hoping that doesn’t happen anytime soon.


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