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Pep Guardiola Hits Back at Roy Keane After Criticism on Erling Haaland

Pep Guardiola (Via Premier League)

Pep Guardiola responded to Roy Keane’s criticism of Erling Haaland by calling the Norwegian “the best striker in the world.”

Keane had commented that Haaland’s “general play” resembled that of “a League Two player” following Manchester City’s 0-0 draw with Arsenal, where Haaland had only 23 touches.

The Man City coach defended his player, suggesting that Keane’s assessment was incorrect and that Haaland was not at fault for the lack of goal-scoring opportunities against Arsenal.

“I do not agree with him, absolutely not,” Guardiola said at a news conference Tuesday. “It’s like [if] I said he’s a manager for the second or third league. I don’t think so.

Roy Keane (Via Getty Images)

“He’s the best striker in the world and he helped us to win what we won last season and the reason why we don’t create many chances [against Arsenal] is not from Erling.

“We need more presence in the final third with more people and we played an exceptional game against Arsenal. I reviewed it.”

Haaland scored 52 goals in 53 games as City secured a Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup treble last season and has continued with 29 goals in 35 games so far this term.

Guardiola expressed his surprise at Keane’s criticism, suggesting that former players should be more understanding.

Erling Haaland at Manchester City (Via Premier League)

“From journalism I can understand because they have never been on the pitch, but the former players always I am surprised,” Guardiola said.

“It’s like the referees when they retire, they always criticise the referees. How difficult is that business for the players? That always surprises me. The memory disappears quickly.

“The problems that the players have [now], they [the pundits] had. The lack of misactions, they missed it a thousand, million times and they were hurt when they were criticised by the former players.

“I am not a guy who is going to criticise my colleagues when I retire.”

Sunday’s result left Man City third in the Premier League with 64 points, three behind leaders Liverpool and one behind second-placed Arsenal with nine games remaining in the season.

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