Man City: Keane doubles down on Haaland critique as Wright backs up ‘League Two player’ jibe

Joe Williams
Roy Keane on Man City striker Erling Haaland
Roy Keane has criticised Man City striker Erling Haaland again.

Roy Keane has doubled down on his criticism of Man City star Erling Haaland after claiming his “general play is that of a League Two player”.

Haaland had an incredible first season at the Etihad Stadium following his move from Borussia Dortmund for £52m in the summer of 2022, scoring 52 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions.

Roy Keane: Erling Haaland’s ‘general play is that of a League Two player’

The Norway international has suffered a little bit from injuries this season but he’s still managed to score 30 goals in the 37 matches that he has played.

Haaland’s recent return of just one goal in five matches is a little bit of a goal drought by his standards and, after struggling to make an impact in Man City’s 0-0 draw against Arsenal, Keane insisted the Norwegian resembled a “League Two player”.

Responding to some criticism of his comments, Keane said on Sky Bet‘s latest episode of Stick to Football: “I don’t know what the big deal is, I give Erling Haaland praise every week, I give Manchester City praise, and I think he’s an amazing striker.

“But his general play is that of a League Two player. And I’m glad you are not agreeing with me, I don’t expect people to agree with me.

READ MORE: Premier League stats: Haaland most goals, xG, big chances missed as Raya leads Golden Glove race

“His general play, week in, week out is nowhere near good enough. As a goal scorer and a striker, the best – and I said that. His link-up play, the way he lays the ball off, sometimes the options he gives his teammates or the options he doesn’t give them – as a striker and a goal scorer the best in the world, but his other play is that of a League Two player.

“The game against Arsenal was tough because they did well to contain the whole game, but in general, I don’t think what I said was a big deal. He’s a young player and he will improve, and I guarantee you that Pep Guardiola sits with his staff on everything and say that he needs to do more, specifically when he’s not getting of chances or loads of goals.”

Fellow pundit Ian Wright agrees with Keane to a certain extent, the former Arsenal striker added: “Roy Keane’s critique of Erling Haaland is pretty on point. The only thing that I have an issue with is mentioning the League Two player because that’s what everyone remembers as it’s all about clicks.

“When you look at him scoring, he’s clocking that level in respect of when the players around him have time, they can play it through to him and he goes on to score.

“However, there’s games like the one we saw against Arsenal where he struggled because there wasn’t that much time on the ball for either team.

“The game they played Arsenal in last season, when they beat them 4-1, Haaland had Rob Holding up against him and he was able to deal with that, but when you’re playing against that kind of calibre of defender, you have to do more to make sure that you can keep hold off the ball.

“When you watch Haaland in the game against Arsenal, they managed to shut down Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva, so that’s when you need Haaland to be more savvy.

“But we need to remember he’s only 23, he’s still learning the game, but you need to be more savvy in how you’re going to make moves to get time on the ball, and what we’re seeing is that he’s not doing that currently.

READ MORE: Phil Foden is master of the small spaces and player of the season

“If we’re talking about Haaland and that he’s going to be playing for the best teams, he’s going to have to improve.

“The problem he will have is that he will be targeted. My weakness was holding and linking the play, so you have to do more so you can get a bit of time to control the ball. I think as he goes to the top level, he will be targeted because if you can stop the other guys around him, the opposition will turn the ball over.”

Jamie Carragher: Erling Haaland ‘looked a bit awkward’ in deeper role

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher continued: “Erling Haaland is a great goal scorer, but he’s not a great player and sometimes there is a difference between the two.

“I mean the thing with Haaland is that I don’t think he cares about the other stuff to his game. There was a spell last season where Pep Guardiola was asking him to actually come deeper and get involved in midfield, and he looked a bit awkward, it just doesn’t suit him, and I don’t think he’s interested.

“I think the way Manchester City plays, they’ve got so many players who can do the link up play in Kevin De Bruyne, Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva, so he doesn’t care about it. I remember his performance at Anfield last season where he didn’t get much action in the game, and I think if he doesn’t score, you don’t know if he’s right.”