Robbie Fowler outlines how Erling Haaland will beat Darwin Nunez

134

Robbie Fowler outlines how Erling Haaland will beat Darwin Nunez: Gains at the margins. The two words that managers love to hear, but that leave fans cold. My coaching experience with Brisbane Roar taught me that even seemingly insignificant improvements can have a cumulative effect over time.

Because I wanted to be in closer proximity to the referees so that they could, shall we say, benefit from my expertise and advice, I had the dugouts moved closer to the field. We also made sure that the other team’s players warmed up in full front of our supporters.

I tried to instill in our opponents’ minds that we were a formidable team by posting some enormous photos of us outside the away locker room. Though each of those actions may seem inconsequential, there were actually quite a few of them, and the sum of their benefits may surprise you.

I think Liverpool and Manchester City have spent hundreds of millions on what their managers and coaches will see as relatively small improvements. Please don’t laugh till I’ve finished explaining.

The addition of Erling Haaland has undoubtedly bolstered Manchester City’s intimidating reputation. Having previously secured 93 points and 99 goals in becoming Champions, they are, without a doubt, the overwhelming favorites to win the title.

Even with the best intentions in the world, he was not purchased (at a cost of over £100 million when we factor in agent fees and other factors) to drastically improve upon the previous season. But how are you able to do that? The truth is that he’s only been brought in to make a significant impact in the most important matches.

During which seasons have City come up just short? In the English Premier League, no way. They reached the Champions League final but ultimately fell short. Even more brutally, they were rejected in the semifinals last season despite crushing Real Madrid.

Just have a look at their track record. They reached the semifinals and the championship game under Pep Guardiola. There was no medal, however. It’s all about the incremental improvements, and for City, making that last little bit of progress in Europe has been a real challenge.

Spending that much on Haaland for a minor gain makes more sense. It will have been worth it if he can show that his contribution was the difference between losing after pounding Real Madrid and winning easily, as they should have.

City and Liverpool only have trouble in a handful of games per season, therefore I have no doubt that their two new striker additions were made with those few games in mind. So, what exactly do you gain from that? Well, even in their shifting formations, I’m a strong proponent of playing a number nine. Sure, I’d be the first to admit it. But hear me out. Consider Liverpool today, and consider City during Pep’s entire career. Teams often pack their defenses and crowd the space available to the opposition, making it easier to defend against a false nine because marking is simpler when everything is in front of you.

Although we have only seen Haaland and Darwin Nunez play a few games together, it is already evident that they both possess the potential to run in behind, thereby stretching defenses. A defender’s worst fear has come true. They can’t rely on a simple block defense anymore. If the defense follows Haaland’s lead, Kevin De Bruyne has more room to work with.

That’s probably why Jurgen Klopp released Sadio Mane and replaced him with Nunez at Liverpool.

Everything gets looked at by Jurgen, so he knows what works and what needs tweaking. Take a look at the three championship games they participated in. They dominated play in each of those three games but managed just a 0-0 draw.

Top teams like Chelsea and Real Madrid were ready to play a deep defensive line and frustrate Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane despite their threat. Moreover, it was successful. Madrid played horribly against Liverpool, showing no ambition and only coming out for the final three minutes of the game to play on the break, where they had their two best chances to score. They triumphed despite this, though.

Liverpool had more shots than anyone else in the Champions League final ever, but they came up empty. This helps me understand why Nunez was signed.

I love Mane so much. I was heartbroken to see him leave, but Klopp just couldn’t afford to keep both Salah and Mane this summer. He figures he can get by with Salah and Diaz playing on the left, where Mane formerly operated.

Nunez’s impact has been felt in his first two games. Yes, Liverpool lost at Fulham, and Jurgen Klopp will be over himself about it, but the Reds now have a new dimension. Liverpool’s playstyle is extremely versatile when he and the rest of the team are in sync.

Like City, they will have a true striker who can make a difference in the playoff games that ultimately decide the championship. Both teams have evolved throughout the summer, which is what matters most. Interesting to see if Nunez or Haaland provides a bigger benefit.