Wednesday, June 8, 2022

INFLUENCER'S INFLUENCERS

One day you will learn of Lee Peacock, my son

Erling Haaland's teenage obsession with Manchester City is well documented. Photographic evidence to persuade the doubters litters social media. Faded shots of a gawky youth in a variety of City shirts have been seen by all as a solid sky blue pedigree as reliable as the messages that used to trip out of the North Stand scoreboard at Maine Road. 

We0.%me *o //nches/er C  y, it is then. 

Haaland Junior's early passion for Joe Royle's stuttering sky blue outfit had a very obvious launch pad. Father Alf-Inge had moved from Leeds to Maine Road in July 2000 with a new Premier League season about to begin after City's dramatic double promotion at Wembley and Ewood Park the previous two Mays. 

The young Erling was born the same month, whilst Alf-Inge prepared for the new season. Those initial bonds can forge strong links in the mind. Although Erling would only have been 3 when dad's time at City was run (Roy Keane's infamous assault in the Manchester derby necessitating early retirement in July 2003), it was the only lasting image son had of father in top flight action.  

Thus, 22 years later, City could add emotional attachment to the other benefits Erling would have in joining the club. Despite those "other benefits" being plentiful for those that choose the sky blue favours these days, a link of this kind forged at such an early age should not be underplayed.  

However, putting it all down to a father's influence is not quite the whole story. Why did Alf-Inge choose City, newly promoted under Joe Royle and Willie Donachie, but still harbouring a ravenous taste for the ridiculous, when other better-placed suitors might have been more logical? 

For it is here, in finding the father's influence for joining the club in the first place that we can trace what later became a fully-fledged family attachment to Manchester City.

Haaland senior can thank an erstwhile Leeds and Norway team mate for giving him a nudge in the right direction. Gunnar Halle had played under Royle and Donachie at Oldham in a side that pushed all before it in reaching the Premier League, a League Cup final and two FA Cup semi-finals. For Oldham, this was truly the most golden of golden ages. Halle's stay at Boundary Park spanned six years, taking in every minute of the club's glorious period under Royle and Donachie. In 1996, he moved to Leeds, where he was joined a year later by his compatriot, arriving from Nottingham Forest.  

Haaland explained at the time. "When the bid came in from City and Leeds told me they were prepared to sell, I needed to find out whether the move would be good for me." 

Seeking out his team mate, Halle told Haaland, "You will not find a better management team than Joe and Willie", thus sowing the seeds for not one but ultimately two Haaland transfers to Manchester.


Haaland senior and Gunnar Halle celebrate a Leeds goal in 1997






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INFLUENCER'S INFLUENCERS

One day you will learn of Lee Peacock, my son Erling Haaland's teenage obsession with Manchester City is well documented. Photographic ...