Pep Guardiola has admitted that Manchester City must find a way to get Erling Haaland into their game.

The Norway international was a peripheral figure in Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League derby defeat by Manchester United, having just a couple of half-chances and just 19 touches in the match.

Haaland has now gone three games without scoring – hardly a crisis, especially as he only came on as a second-half substitute at Southampton, but a slump by the standards of a player who had 27 in his first 21 outings.

It’s close

Erling Haaland (right) had only a few half-chances at Old Trafford (Martin Ricketts/Pennsylvania)

But more notable has been the impact Haaland has had on City’s system after they became so accustomed – and so successfully – to operating a false nine over the past two seasons.

Former City midfielder Didi Hamaan took to social media on Saturday to claim that City “were a better team without Haaland, even if he scores 40 goals this season”.

Guardiola is unlikely to agree, but he is still working on fully integrating his £51million summer signing.

“At the moment we have this process because when teams are sitting in their 18-yard boxes it’s more difficult, but we have to find it a little bit more, yes,” Guardiola said.

“(Against United) he had enough touches but it’s true that if you look at the area you have to look at him. But we will do it.”

I would say the inconsistency was in terms of results but not performancesPep Guardiola

City have struggled for consistency this season, particularly since the World Cup, drawing at home to Everton on New Year’s Day and now suffering defeats to Southampton in the Carabao Cup and United in the league.

But Guardiola said such inconsistencies are not down to the system change Haaland’s arrival has forced.

“I would say the discrepancy was in terms of results but not performances,” he said. “Overall, (but) not against Southampton, we were consistent in our games.

“Of course we played better against Everton, but they had one shot on goal and we drew. They punished you when they didn’t before, we always found a way to get a result.

“When we play well or badly, we always had that chance. I think that is our strength and we have to improve, but in terms of performance, I think we are consistent.”

City took the lead at Old Trafford but collapsed after Bruno Fernandes equalized, allowing Marcus Rashford to score the winner after just four minutes.

But despite his disappointment with the result and disappointment with the decision to keep Fernandez’s goal, Guardiola was much happier with the game.

“We were there all the time, I could recognize my team,” he said. “That’s all I can say. In Southampton…what is it? What kind of team is this? But it was the other way around. I will know my team for many, many years.”

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