Jesse Marsch credited his former Salzburg striker Erling Haaland’s “infectious” hunger for goals after the Manchester City talisman tormented Leeds United at Elland Road.
Haaland made his first Premier League trip to his city of birth a memorable one by claiming a second-half brace after Rodri struck first for the champions, who moved within five points of leaders Arsenal with a 3-1 win.
The 22-year-old has now hit 20 Premier League goals in just 14 appearances – seven fewer than the player who was previously quickest to that mark, former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips.
Having coached Haaland for half a season in Austria, Marsch is acutely aware of the Norwegian’s talents and has never seen a player with a greater desire to score goals.
“Haaland has an uncanny ability to know where to be to score goals, and a hunger to score goals like I have never seen before,” Marsch told Amazon Prime Video.
“When you have him in your team, it’s infectious. You obviously see his quality, but it is a desire that spreads through the team.”
Asked whether that hunger made Pep Guardiola’s men title favourites, Marsch said: “I don’t know, but it makes Haaland one of my favourite players to watch.”
20 – Erling Haaland has become the fastest player to score 20 goals in the Premier League, doing so in 14 appearances:
14 – Erling Haaland
21 – Kevin Phillips
23 – Andrew Cole
26 – Ruud van Nistelrooy
26 – Diego Costa
26 – Tony Yeboah
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 28, 2022
Haaland passed up two excellent opportunities to open the scoring before finally punishing Leeds, drawing two one-on-one saves from Illan Meslier before the break.
The striker told Amazon Prime Video he was disappointed not to have scored five times, quotes which were put to Guardiola after the game.
“I’m so upset, I’m so upset,” Guardiola joked. “We are delighted with how humble and how grounded he is.
“He’s an exceptional guy with his work ethic and professionalism. It’s a great treat to our opponents, having him there.
“Wasted opportunities are part of the game. In this stadium, against a team who have been able to play really well against top teams like Arsenal and Liverpool, it’s a big compliment for the guys in their first Premier League game after the World Cup.”
Haaland has now scored 26 goals in just 20 competitive appearances for City, making him the fastest player to reach 25 goals while playing under Guardiola during the coach’s top-flight career.
World Cup winner Lionel Messi was the previous holder of that record, taking eight games more to reach that tally while playing in Guardiola’s all-conquering Barcelona team.
— Premier League (@premierleague) December 28, 2022