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Pep Guardiola says hat-trick hero Erling Haaland is ‘not a player to be dropped’

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Pep Guardiola declared Erling Haaland unstoppable after the prolific Norwegian netted another hat-trick to give Manchester City a 3-0 win over Wolves.

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Åland secured his fourth treble of the campaign – taking his tally to a remarkable 31 for the season in 26 games in all competitions – as the champions responded strongly to their manager’s midweek complaints.

Guardiola delivered an impassioned rant about his side’s recent performances after City came from 2-0 down to beat Tottenham on Thursday.

Haaland’s treble was also a strong reply to claims that City had become a worse team, at least in terms of style, since the striker’s arrival in the summer.

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Pep Guardiola’s side claimed a second win in a row (Martin Ricketts/PA)

Guardiola said: “When he scores I don’t know how many hat-tricks and goals, (people say) he is the solution in our team and when he doesn’t score he is a problem in our team. There is a gray vision of such things.

“We know his quality, we know each other. He is not a player to be dropped. We cannot play false nine with him, we have to adjust to him and I think we are doing quite well.

Guardiola had expressed regret for City’s recent lack of spark after the Spurs game, and demanded that his players pace up and stop playing like a “happy flower team”.

After a poor start, City clicked back into gear on Sunday after Haaland headed in the 40th minute. He added a second from the penalty spot early in the second half and soon got off his third.

“Today we improved but it was only today, we will see what happens in the next matches,” said Guardiola.

We know his quality, we know each other. he is not a player to be droppedPep Guardiola on Erling Haaland

“People will look at Erling’s goals, Kevin’s (de Bruyne’s) assists and Riyad’s (Maherez’s) actions but there is still room for improvement.”

Phil Foden, who has been out of form recently, was not included in the squad, but Guardiola confirmed it was due to injury.

He added: “It was an action at Old Trafford with (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka. He has a problem with his feet and he is struggling.”

Unusually, City chief executive Ferran Soriano traveled with the team from the training complex to the stadium for games.

But Guardiola said: “I didn’t see (him). I don’t know, I was the last one to come on the coach and the first one to leave.

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Erling Haaland scored three goals against Wolves (Martin Ricketts/PA)

Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui took a pragmatic approach to his side’s defeat – their defeat in the Premier League for only the second time since taking charge – but admitted his strategy could be wrong.

He said: “Today is not a good day to talk about whether I am happy or not. We deserved to lose.

“But I prefer losing over trying to damage the opponent. We have to improve in this situation but maybe it was my fault with the line-up or the planning.

“We have improved in different things. When I got here we were last but it is going to be a very long race for all the teams.

“Last week we were not in Heaven, this week we are not in Hell. We have to be balanced.”

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