Erling Haaland reveals that after joining Manchester City, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer offered his support, despite telling the striker he had joined “the wrong side of Manchester.”
Solskjaer, a fan favorite at Old Trafford, played his entire career at United before assuming his first position in senior management as the head coach of Molde in 2011.
But Solskjaer did not come into contact with Haaland until his second stint in Norway with Molde. He oversaw the player for two years before returning to lead United in 2018.
Haaland subsequently won a move to RB Salzburg, where he flourished before joining Borussia Dortmund. In the process of signing the Norway striker, Borussia Dortmund prevailed over interest from Manchester United.
Haaland did not select United over Dortmund, where he scored 86 goals in 89 games across all competitions during his two-and-a-half-year stay, despite Solskjaer’s push.
Only two players from Europe’s top five divisions, Kylian Mbappe (93 in 111 games) and Robert Lewandowski (123 in 108 games) had higher total goals during that time.
Earlier in the year, City made a shrewd move to sign Haaland, and Pep Guardiola’s influence won over Haaland to the Blue side of Manchester. Solskjaer’s reaction to the deal was proof that the former Man United coach was in contact with Haaland all along.
“When I signed with City he (Solskjaer) congratulated me and wrote to me ‘good luck on going to the wrong side of Manchester’,” Haaland told the Manchester Evening News.
“We talk sometimes. As you know, he had a huge impact on my career when I was at Molde. He’s a good guy.”
There are high expectations for Haaland since he arrived at the Etihad Stadium, not the least of which is to fill the vacuum Sergio Aguero left when he quit City in 2021.
The 21-year-old may contrast Aguero’s small height with his tall stature, but Haaland’s finishing is comparable; in all competitions last season, the Norway international scored a goal per 3.6 attempts and converted 65.8% of his big opportunities.
“Three years ago City didn’t want me because they had [Sergio] Aguero up front so then there was no choice about coming to Man City,” Haaland added.
“Basically, my feeling was I felt more going to the other place than coming here to England. I could have come here a lot of times in my career but I felt the other place and I think it was a really good choice.
“I have made perfect choices ever since I went to Molde, then Salzburg and Dortmund. I’m not complaining about that.”
When City kick off their season on August 7 away at West Ham, Haaland will be looking to make his Premier League debut. He is hoping to have a good start to keep the momentum around him going.