It’s a rough Monday morning for those Dream Team bosses who believed the Community Shield gave an accurate depiction of Erling Haaland (£7m).
The Norwegian striker’s ownership dropped from just under 70% to 52.8% in the week between Liverpool’s victory over Man City at the King Power and the opening weekend of the Premier League season.
And those who turned their back on the 22-year-old were severely punished on Sunday afternoon as he bagged a brace against West Ham to get the Citizens’ title defence underway with a win.
Haaland opened his Dream Team account with a cool 18-point haul to make him the joint-top points scorer in Game Week 1.
Fabian Schar (£2m) and Aleksandar Mitrovic (£3.5m) share the honours after their respective heroics on Saturday.
It wasn’t just the concrete returns that justified Haaland’s status as the most-popular player in Dream Team (52.8% ownership) but the nature of his goals too.
The deadlock-breaker came from the penalty spot after the No9 displayed his otherworldly acceleration to latch onto a throughball from Ilkay Gundogan (£4m) and draw a foul from Alphonse Areola (£2m).
It’s rare to see a 6ft 3in forward with a gangly frame move so quickly, which is one of the reasons there has been such hype around the second-generation footballer during the infancy of his career.
Riyad Mahrez (£5.5m) was City’s first-choice spot-kick taker last season but perhaps he’s dropped a place in the pecking order over the summer.
If Haaland’s first goal showed a glimpse of his potency then his second exhibited the whole shebang.
Kevin De Bruyne (£7m) slipped a pass in behind the Hammers’ defence and City’s newest superstar finished the job with the same ruthlessness that propelled his reputation into orbit at Red Bull Salzburg and Borussia Dortmund.
If there are question marks over his first touch and defensive contribution then there are exclamation marks over his off-the-ball movement and directness.
Man City’s host of creative midfielders perhaps should have attempted more throughballs than they did at the London Stadium given Haaland’s willingness to run in behind.
Much of the focus has been on how the Norway international will adapt to Pep Guardiola’s demands but perhaps we should also consider how the decorated tactician will adjust his system to suit his new plaything.
City have played without a proper centre-forward for nearly two years, very successfully, and the defining feature of the rotating cast of false nines was how they would constantly show for the ball at their feet in midfield.
Haaland does the same occasionally but only as a courtesy, he’s mainly concerned with engineering one-on-ones, and no wonder given the efficiency with which he converted his second goal.
Many Dream Team gaffers will be hoping to see De Bruyne slip that ball through to Haaland at least once a game for the rest of the season.
It’s early days but we expect hordes of Dream Team managers to use one of their five August transfers to bring Haaland into their XI ahead of Game Week 2 when City play Bournemouth at the Etihad.