Sam Allardyce couldn’t help but laugh when asked whether it was best to get physical when marking Manchester City’s Erling Haaland. It wasn’t a scoff to say he disagreed with the notion, nor was it one that implied the reporter was silly for having asked the question during Friday morning’s Leeds United press conference at Thorp Arch.
It was simply a reaction that suggested any sort of marking was easier said than done when speaking about a man who already has 51 goals to his name this season and that rate is showing no signs of slowing towards the business end of the season.
In fact, having scored 18 goals in his last 11 games in all competitions, he’s looking hotter than ever in front of goal and he’ll certainly fancy his chances of adding more to his tally against his boyhood club Leeds United, who possess the worst defensive record across the Premier League.
Stopping the juggernaut striker looks to be something of a thankless task for Allardyce during his first week in the job, then. But, that hasn’t stopped the head coach from drawing up a plan designed to limit the chances that fall the Norwegian’s way at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
“It's also supply,” Allardyce said when asked about his plans to frustrate Haaland. “Stop the supply and stop the big man getting as many chances and then you limit his chances of scoring.
“Stop the supply but keep an eye on him at all times particularly in the final third.”
He continued: “I'm not sure I could mark him and when I played I was the most physical player in the league. Yeah, I think that you have to be strong enough to deal with him because he can use his body weight brilliantly as well as his talents and skills.
“I'm more interested in supply. If we can cut the supply down more first and then when he when it does come to him and we limit the amount of times the ball it does come to him, we'll have a better chance of dealing with it. Obviously the players who are there at the time, in close proximity, don't play with fear, play with a positive attitude.
“So do your job. If you can just stop him scoring a goal you don't need to do anything else in that game on Saturday, you don't need to contribute in any other way. Just stop him scoring and you will have had a fantastic game.
“I dealt with lots of centre-forwards like that when I played, they didn't quite score as many goals as that, of course.”