‘He deserves a lot of credit for teaching me’: Erling Braut Haaland reveals shooting practice with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer helped turn him into one of Europe’s most lethal finishers
- Erling Haaland says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer helped him become an expert finisher
- The two worked together at Norwegian side Molde at the start of his career
- Haaland is one of the world’s deadliest strikers and has 40 goals this season
- He was nearly reunited with Solskjaer at United but moved to Dortmund
Erling Braut Haaland claims Ole Gunnar Solskjaer helped him fine-tune his ability in front of goal that has seen him emerge as one of the world’s best finishers.
The Norwegian starlet has become a sensation after firing in 40 goals this season for Red Bull Salzburg and later Borussia Dortmund having joined the Bundesliga side in the January transfer window.
Haaland had been heavily linked with a move to Manchester United at the start of the year before the shock announcement that the German side had pipped them to his signature – with the 19-year-old rejecting a reunion with manager Solskjaer, who he worked under at boyhood club Molde.
Erling Braut Haaland is quickly becoming one of the deadliest finishers in world football
He says he has Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (right) to thank for helping him perfect his composure
But despite passing up an opportunity to link up with the United boss again, Haaland has admitted he was a crucial part of his early development – the former striker running him through drills and advising him to stay calm in the penalty area.
Speaking to Eurosport, he reflected on a game for Molde against Norwegian rivals Brann, who had a notoriously stubborn defence, where he managed to score four goals in the opening 20 minutes.
‘Before that game, Solskjaer and I did some practice on finishing,’ he said. ‘Not just crosses. I remember he taught me some easy rules.
Haaland says the key to his goal-scoring ability is simply staying calm inside the penalty area
‘That was something he taught me in the days before that game and he has taught me a lot to be calm, and also be on your toes and come to those situation where the ball is coming. It is then you have the chance to score. He deserves a lot of credit for teaching me that.’
While it might be difficult to imagine Haaland fluffing his lines now, the start of his career wasn’t so rosy and was under pressure after missing a host of chances for Molde in 2018 – despite still being a teenager.
He had failed to score in games against Kristiansund and Stabaek in the games leading up to the crucial Brann fixture, and he recalled his frustration as he continued to struggle in training – but revealed that Solskjaer kept faith in his young prospect.
He initially struggled for Molde before coming alive after working together with Solskjaer
The United boss kept faith with his striker and urged him to stay on his toes to finish chances
‘I remember it was frustrating as a young striker, everything goes against you in training. I was alone with the keeper and the bar, got crosses from Ole Gunnar [Solskjaer], but I missed on every opportunity. I remember Ole then said “I think you start this game, so just be ready”.
Haaland began his career with hometown club Bryne before being snapped up by Solskjaer’s Molde in 2017. He played 20 times in his first season under the manager, scoring just four goals, but raised the bar the following campaign – with 16 strikes from 30 outings.
That form earned him a move to Austria for Salzburg – where his career really started to take flight. He scored 29 goals in just 27 games to catch the eye of Europe’s elite, linked with the likes of Real Madrid and United – looking nailed on to arrive at Old Trafford due to his relationship with Solskjaer.
He was expected to sign for Manchester United before Dortmund snapped him up in January
But Haaland shocked the world by signing for Dortmund in a £17million deal this January after reports that United had failed to agree a deal with his agent Mino Raiola, who is said to have been after a percentage of a future transfer fee.
The player himself said he was swayed by the German outfit making him feel immediately wanted and highly valued.
‘The club said directly: “We need you up front. We like your playing style and we want to have you here”.
‘I liked how they spoke to me then and that’s what triggered me. That’s when I felt that me and Dortmund was a good match.’
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