ERLING HAALAND will have a chat with his dad Alf Inge before he plays in his first Manchester derby on Sunday.
The Norwegian hotshot grew up as a City fan and won’t need any extra motivation for the showdown with United at the Etihad.
Manchester City superstar Erling Haaland is set for his first Manchester derbyCredit: Reuters
But Haaland Sr may provide some – as he was famously pushed towards retirement by a horror tackle from Roy Keane in this fixture 21 years ago.
The scars obviously run pretty deep in the 14-goal striker’s family.
When Erling was introduced to the City fans at a special event back in July he was asked which fixture he was looking forward to the most.
“I don’t like to say the words… Manchester United,” he replied – to huge cheers from the supporters who had gathered to greet him.
On Sunday he will get a first chance to show the Red Devils just how much he dislikes them – and might have some words from his old man ringing in his ears.
The £51.4million ace said: “I will probably speak to my dad about it, yeah, but I know what it’s like and I’m ready.
“I’m excited, it will be a great experience. Hopefully a good, intense game and I look forward to it.
“I expect United to be hard-working, they’ll come to us to try to destroy us but we have to believe in ourselves and to perform well and take advantage of being at home.
“We have to attack the game.”
Alf Inge’s career was not ended by Keane’s challenge – but he later claimed his sore knee had been a factor in his retirement the following year.
But his boy says he has other more positive recollections of the derby – with one in particular sticking in his mind.
He said: “I remember [Mario] Balotelli at Old Trafford with the ‘Why Always Me’ celebration. I remember that one particularly well. I gotta say.
Alf-Inge Haaland knows about the Manchester derby after his clash with Roy KaneCredit: Getty Images – Getty
“I’ve got some good memories but I’m looking forward to making some new ones.”
Much has been made of Haaland’s match up with United’s 5ft, 9in centre-back Lisandro Martinez – but the Norwegian says he does not worry too much who he is up against.
He said: “I’ve not really thought about it too much. I’ve already been facing a lot of good defenders – but there’s nobody I don’t want to face. It doesn’t matter.”
“But I’m hoping we can play our best football – if so I think it could be a lovely evening..
“I hope it’ll be fun. I’m hoping everyone at City is ready for the game and attacks at the same time.”
It is easy to forget Haaland could become the first player in Prem history to score three consecutive home hat-tricks – given the other two came at the end of August.
Erling Haaland remembers Mario Balotelli’s famous ‘Why Always Me’ momentCredit: Action Images – Reuters
He smiled: ”I don’t think about that. Of course I love to score goals but I want to play good and perform well with the team and if we do that, as a striker I should always score goals.”
The bad news for United – and for defenders around the country – is that Pep Guardiola believes Haaland has put his injury woes behind him.
He struggled to stay fit during his final year at Borussia Dortmund and was not able to take part in the first week of pre-season as a result.
City sent physio Mario Pafundi with their striker to the Norwegian camp last week to keep an eye on him and to ensure the practices which have worked so well so far were followed.
And the City boss said: “I’ve always said to the club that the most important department in the backroom staff is the physios. They take care of the legs.
“Erling struggled a lot in Dortmund last year with injuries and arrived here with small problems after surgery in the summer.
Erling Haaland may take advice from his dad Alf-Inge before facing Manchester UnitedCredit: Getty
“He started to work with Mario and other guys and thanks to them – and his work ethic – he can play regularly now.
“Last season it was not possible. Thank you to Erling and the treatment from the guys.
“The clubs earn a lot of money when the players can play and most of the time it’s thanks to the physios.”
CITY XI (likely): Ederson, Walker, Dias, Akanji, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Mahrez, Haaland, Foden.