Josep Guardiola says Manchester City’s medical staff is the secret to Erling Haaland’s meteoric start with the Premier League champions.
Haaland hit the ground running immediately, scoring 14 goals in nine appearances in all competitions since joining City from Borussia Dortmund in the off-season.
Although the 22-year-old has been equally effective at Dortmund, he has often found his successful streak to be thwarted by minor injury issues.
Aware of these health concerns, city boss Guardiola has made it a priority to ensure that his medical staff keeps Haaland fit and working at their full potential.
The Norwegian striker has started every game for City so far and Guardiola said: “Everyone is important, but I have always told the club that the most important department in the backroom staff is the physios. They take care of their feet.
“Erling struggled a lot in Dortmund last season due to injuries and arrived here with little problems after a little surgery in the summer.
“He started working here with (phys.) Mario (Pafundi) and the other guys, and thanks to them – and of course his work ethic – he can now play regularly. It wasn’t possible last season.”
“When players can play most of the time, it’s thanks to the physios.”
Pafundi’s role is so important to Guardiola that a physiotherapist traveled with Haaland during his recent two-week assignment with the Norwegian national team.
“It’s not strange. At events such as the World and European Championships, many physiotherapists accompany the players, and Mario is an exceptional physio,” said Guardiola.
While Haaland has benefited from his time with City’s medical gurus, fellow preseason signing Calvin Phillips remains on the sidelines.
The England midfielder has undergone surgery to correct a recurring shoulder problem during the international break after playing just 14 minutes after arriving from Leeds.
Guardiola is hopeful that Phillips will be able to return for the World Cup.
“He feels good. The surgery went really well and the mobility is improving,” he said.
“He made the right decision, otherwise he could not move forward. Now this problem is solved, and as soon as he is ready, he will be able to return, I hope he will have time to go to the World Cup.”
City defender John Stones will also be out of Sunday’s derby against Manchester United with a hamstring injury against England.
Guardiola expects the Stones to be out “maybe 10 days, two weeks”.