Meet the unknown Norwegian duo who are the secret behind Erling Haaland's stunning Man City success
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Erling Haaland's goalscoring exploits have been hailed by former youth coach Alf Ignve Bernsten, who heaped praise on a relatively unknown centre-back pairing that helped to craft the Norwegian's trademark goalscoring style.
Haaland has established himself as one of the most prolific strikers in world football, having scored goals aplenty at Molde, Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund before securing a high-profile move to Manchester City ahead of the 2022/23 Premier League campaign.
Haaland has gone on to break numerous records during his short stint in the Premier League so far, but - despite crediting his success to his love of milk - Haaland has been known to work tirelessly on the training ground in order to hone his skills.
However that hasn't always been the case for the Manchester City forward.
During his teenage years, Haaland turned out for Norwegian outfit Byrne, but he wasn't always too keen on putting in the hard hours on the training ground.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Haaland's former coach Alf Ignve Bernsten spoke of the teenager's 'struggles' in training sessions. "He really struggled in the training sessions. We didn’t coach him at all, we just let him play," he said.
By letting the Norwegian do his own thing, he had to figure out his own route to success, a route that was made more difficult by the astute defensive capabilities of Byrne's then-centre-back pairing of Tord Johnsen Salte and Andreas Ueland.
Given their experience, Haaland wasn't able to overpower the duo, and instead had to use his natural skillset in order to achieve success, as he was left to develop at his own pace.
"Against those defenders, he had to be clever," Bernsten added.
"His opponents were quite good. We could not develop Erling, he had to do that himself. It’s better for Erling to learn for himself rather than an old man like me telling him where to run. He could develop at his own pace."
Given the physical nature of the duo, Haaland resorted to utilising his pace and one-touch finishing in order to achieve success, traits which stick with the Manchester City man to this day.
"When I see old videos of him at 13, his movement is quite similar to now," Bernsten explained.
"Compare some of the goals he scores with indoor sessions at 13, it’s funny but it’s the same. His style has been like this for years, the same movements. Normally when you meet better opposition you stop developing, but Erling has always adapted to the next level and that’s not normal."
Haaland's brace against Leicester City on Saturday took the City forward's Premier League tally to 32, equalling Mohamed Salah's record for the most goals in a 38-game Premier League season with eight games still to play.