Pep Guardiola said “special winner” Erling Haaland deserved a rich guard of honor from his Manchester City team-mates after he broke the Premier League’s single-season scoring record.
The 22-year-old has joked that he could repeat his goalscoring feats following Borussia Dortmund’s move to the Etihad Stadium last summer.
Haaland took his tally to 51 in all competitions on Wednesday night, taking his Premier League haul to 35 and breaking Andy Cole and Alan Shearer’s competition record.
The Norway international scored between efforts from Nathan Ake and Phil Foden in a 3-0 win over West Ham and continued what Guardiola says was a pre-planned guard of honour.
“He was (special), I think he deserved it,” said the City Boss. “The whole team deserved it because he wouldn’t have been able to do it without the team, but he’s a special striker.
“We are very happy with him because he is a joy, not only to work with him as a manager. I think everyone is happy to have him with us.
“Obviously this record will be broken sooner or later, maybe in the future or maybe another one but they will have to score a lot of goals because he scored a lot.
“Of course (we planned the honor guard). We thought about that and in football when there is a special occasion, we have to show how special it is.
“Today it was with Erling. Another day, another day will happen but to score and beat the position of Andy Cole and Alan Shearer is definitely something special – incredible strikers.”
Guardiola said “we can’t achieve many things without a good striker”, while name-checking former City starters such as Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli.
But this night was all about Haaland, who still has five Premier League games to add to his record interest.
“At the end when you buy a player in Erling we know he scores goals everywhere and we thought he could do it (here),” Guardiola said.
“But in the end we don’t know. You have to work and see the process.
“He understands what we want to do, the players understand his movement and whatever, so it’s just a matter of time.
“The impact or how it changed for the league was so quick.
“The first two goals were against West Ham. It is a coincidence that he broke the record against West Ham when he scored the first goals against them.
“Immediately we saw that he is a man when you give him balls, he scores in every situation – apart from free-kicks, but maybe in the future.
“But penalties, crosses, combinations and transfers, he’s a man who can do many, many things. That’s why he scored a lot of goals.”
Haaland’s latest goal helped to ease any nerves at the Etihad Stadium, with Wednesday’s win seeing off title favorites City against Arsenal and reclaiming top spot.
“I said after Arsenal (last week) when everyone said it was over, I said it wasn’t over in my press conference,” Guardiola said of the 4-1 win in midweek.
“Yesterday Arsenal proved it. They will not give up. I know Mikel (Arteta) well, how competitive he is and I know a few players.
“Arsenal are one of the historic teams and they will be there. I told the players.”
For West Ham, the 3-0 win came on a night when Declan Rice, Nayef Aguerd and Tomas Soucek all ruled out illness on the day of the match.
David Moyes, whose side face Manchester United on Sunday, said: “I have to hope they are (back).
“Two of them we are not sure if they have maybe a little bit of food poisoning whether at the training center or hotel.
“We think one of them has a virus, so, I’m not a doctor, whether antibiotics fix that quickly or whether you work it off I’m not entirely sure.
“So hopefully they’ll have a chance at the weekend but the biggest thing I have to praise is the players who came in and did such a good job.
“For long periods against a very good team we made it quite difficult”