Manchester United must come up with Plan B against Erling Haaland if they are not to suffer a second derby day embarrassment according to Joleon Lescott. The Red Devils’ first attempt at nullifying the striker with Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane getting physical proved a spectacular flop in the first meeting between the two Manchester side with Haaland smashing a hat-trick in a 6-3 rout in October.
And former City centre half Lescott believes if they are avoid a repeat United manager Erik ten Hag has to come up with another plan when the two meet at Old Trafford tomorrow lunchtime.
“In the game at the Etihad I think Martinez and Varane tried to get physical with him,’ said Lescott. “I remember a couple of instances where Haaland just kind of manhandled them – he enjoys that, so there has to be a different approach.
“The outcome wasn’t positive for them as individuals or them as a team. It’s a case of recognising what didn’t work last game and changing that.” Everton’s Ben Godfrey attempted to prove that going toe-to-toe with Haaland was the correct approach when the Toffees took a point from City at the Etihad on New Year’s Eve.
His efforts proved to be only partially successful though drawing the Norway international into a personal battle which saw the City man booked, but still getting on the scoresheet. Lescott believes stopping Haaland getting the ball in the first place is key to smothering the threat.
“Godfrey did exceptionally well that game, overall but he will have come off the field disappointed that Haaland scored. With regards to completely nullifying Haaland, I don’t think anyone’s had the success of doing that yet.
“If enough chances fall to him he’s going to execute so it is a case of nullifying those chances.”
Even allowing for the fact that United take an eight game win streak into tomorrow, Lescott concedes snuffing out the threat from City will be easier said than done. And after the shock of being dumped out of the Carabao Cup by Southampton this week, he predicted City will be even more fired up than usual.
“I don’t think there are many teams that are overawed by Old Trafford now,” said Lescott. “I think in recent years and seasons, it’s been a place where you feel you can get something, and it’ll be no different for City.”
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