Pep Guardiola says hat-trick hero Erling Haaland ‘is not a player to throw away’

Pep Guardiola declared Erling Haaland unbeatable after the prolific Norwegian scored another hat-trick to see Manchester City win 3-0 against Wolves.

Haaland won his fourth treble of the campaign – taking his tally this season to a remarkable 31 in 26 matches across all competitions – as the champions responded forcefully to their manager’s midweek complaints.

Guardiola delivered a passionate tirade about his side’s recent performances after City had to fight from 2-0 to beat Tottenham on Thursday.

Haaland’s treble was also a strong retort to claims that City had become an inferior team, at least in terms of style, since the striker’s arrival in the summer.

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola’s team wins second in a row (Martin Rickett/PA)

Guardiola said: “When he scores, I don’t know how many hat-tricks and goals, (people say), is a solution in our team, and when he doesn’t score, it’s a problem in our team. This is the gray view of this kind of thing.

We know its quality, we know each other. He’s not a player you can throw away. We can’t play a false nine with him, we have to adapt to him and I think we’re doing quite well.

Guardiola bemoaned City’s recent loss of luster after a Spurs game, demanding his players sharpen up and stop playing like a “lucky flower team”.

After a poor start, City got back into action on Sunday after Haaland took them forward in the 40th minute. He added a second goal from the penalty spot early in the second half, then tucked away a third soon after.

“Today we improved, but it’s only today, we’ll see what happens in the next games,” said Guardiola.

“People will see Erling goals, Kevin (De Bruyne) assists and Riyad (Mahrez) plays, but there are still things to improve.”

Phil Foden, who has been out of shape recently, has not been involved with the squad but Guardiola has confirmed this was due to injury.

He said: “It was action at Old Trafford with (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka. He has a problem with his feet and is struggling.”

In an unusual way, City’s chief executive Ferran Soriano made the journey from the training complex to the stadium for a match with the team.

But Guardiola said: “I haven’t seen (him). I don’t know, I was the last one to enter the coach and the first to leave it.

Erling Haaland scoring

Erling Haaland scored three goals against Wolves (Martin Rickett/PA)

Wolves manager Julen Lopetegui was pragmatic about his team’s defeat – only the second time since he took over the Premier League they had suffered in the Premier League – but admitted he may have taken the wrong tactic.

He said: “Today is not a good day to talk about whether I am happy or not. We deserved to lose.

“But I prefer to lose trying to damage my opponent. We need to correct this situation, but maybe it was my fault in the setup or plan.

“We’ve improved things. When I arrived here we were in last position, but it will be a very long race for all the teams.

“Last week we weren’t in heaven, this week we’re not in hell. We have to be balanced.”

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