Soccer

Erling Haaland an inspiration for club and country – Man City winger Oscar Bobb

Norway international Haaland took his tally to 53 goals in 55 Premier League appearances with the winner against Brentford.

Oscar Bobb sees Erling Haaland as an inspiration
Manchester City v Red Star Belgrade – UEFA Champions League – Group G – Etihad Stadium Oscar Bobb sees Erling Haaland as an inspiration (Martin Rickett/PA)

Oscar Bobb has described his Manchester City and Norway team-mate Erling Haaland as an inspiration.

Haaland got the only goal as City edged out Brentford 1-0 on Tuesday night in a match that saw emerging talent Bobb, 20, make his first Premier League start.

It was Haaland’s 17th goal of the season despite missing two months of the campaign with a foot injury, and took him to 53 in 55 league appearances since joining City in the summer of 2022. A goal against the Bees meant he has scored against all 21 Premier League opponents he has faced.

“What he’s achieved is crazy, right?” Bobb said. “He’s only three years older than me, same country, everything. Yes, he’s an inspiration.”

Asked if he was close with his illustrious team-mate, Bobb said: “Yes, I think it’s natural. We’re pretty close in age and from the same place. He helps me a lot.”

It was Haaland’s third goal in seven games since his return from injury and came after he was criticised for missing a string of opportunities in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea.

But Bobb said there had never been any concern within the City camp regarding their star striker, who last week was mourning the death of his grandmother.

“Everyone knows how good of a finisher he is,” Bobb said. “As long as he gets in those situations, whether he misses or scores, such a clinical finish, if he misses a few one game it’s not like he’s going to start missing all his chances.

Erling Haaland scored City’s winner against Brentford
Manchester City v Brentford – Premier League – Etihad Stadium Erling Haaland scored City’s winner against Brentford (Martin Rickett/PA)

“There’s no real worries. I mean, when you have the quality he has, it is just about getting to the right spots.”

Haaland capitalised on a slip from Kristoffer Ajer to finally find a way past Brentford goalkeeper Mark Flekken, breaching a defence that for 70 minutes had stood firm to the growing frustration of Pep Guardiola, his players, and the home fans inside the Etihad Stadium.

Bobb had one of City’s best chances in the first half when he collected a rebound, neatly created space for himself but then saw his shot blocked on the line by Ben Mee.

Though it was his first league start, this was Bobb’s 16th City appearance of the season. The winger, who joined City’s academy from Valerenga in 2019, has scored two goals, including a memorable late winner at Newcastle last month.

“It’s been a big step up but I think, playing in this team, it gets a lot easier because you are not always dominating but usually you see a lot of the ball,” he said.

“For me as a player I’m more of a ball-player than a runner and that helps. Being in this group and with these people helps me.”

Bobb is now hoping to play his part in the title chase as City look ahead to a March fixture list that includes a derby against United, a potentially pivotal trip to Anfield and a home match against Arsenal.

“In these situations – the manager says it a lot – you don’t really think too far ahead,” Bobb said. “It’s (a few) games before United even. So I don’t think that’s the biggest focus right now. It will be, of course, and that period will be good for the team.

“Two, three years ago we won by one point when (Ilkay Gundogan) scored (on the final day against Aston Villa). When you look at it like that, every point could be a title-deciding point.”