26 Sept 2013

Nicol blasts: 'Immature' £20m star is 'letting his team-mates down'. Harsh...?

During his time in the Premier League, former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli became the archetypal whipping boy for a series of ex-Liverpool players. Over the last year, Steve Nicol, Didi Hamann, Alan Hansen, Tommy Smith, Mark Lawrenson and Graeme Souness have all stuck the knife into the Italian and even though he's now at Milan, Nicol still can't resist a dig.

Discussing Balotelli's recent red card against Napoli, Nicol told ESPN:

"It’s bad for Milan. The worst suspension is Balotelli, and without him, AC Milan just aren’t a great side.

"He's immature, and it keeps popping up, and he’s letting his team-mates down".

Last season, Lawro labelled Balotelli - who cost AC Milan £20m in January - 'an absolute disgrace'; Nicol claimed that his 'demeanour hurt City'; Hamann insisted that he 'wouldn't want him on my team; Hansen called him a 'damaging distraction;, and Souness labelled the Italian a 'liability'. Kenny Dalglish also jumped on the bandwagon at the tail-end of last season, when he told The Mirror:

"Balotelli is damaging the club, and is a problem Mancini doesn't need. It is not as if Balotelli is an out and out genius whose talent is at a level where it compensates for his eccentricities"

Tommy Smith is also in the anti-Balotelli camp, and in a recent column for the Liverpool Echo, he barked:

"Mario Balotelli is a nutcase who would not have lasted five minutes in any dressing room I’ve been in. I shudder to think what Shanks or Bob Paisley would have made of him. It doesn’t matter how talented you are, it’s all about attitude".

Smith et al may be right about Balotelli, but their overwrought complaints reek of breathtaking hypocrisy, especially when compared to their collective silence during Luis Suarez's many past transgressions. Smith also had a word of warning for Philippe Coutinho:

"I hope Coutinho is very different [to Balotelli]. He’s clearly got lots of ability and potential. But he should get his head down, embrace our magnificent club and its fans, and give everything he has each time he pulls on a red shirt. If he puts Liverpool FC and the supporters first, not just himself, he can become a big hit".

I don't think there's anything to fear re Coutinho, who has shown a calm, disciplined demeanour since arriving at Anfield.

As for Balotelli - he got sent off, but many players get sent off. To his credit, he's grabbed a formidable 17 goals/1 assist in 18 games for Milan since his transfer, so the striker is (mostly) letting his football do the talking.

Jaimie Kanwar

NOTE: Please stick to the Comment Policy (Click to read)


  1. Where was he getting that coutihno comment from, did i miss something? Bit bizarre.
    Ballotelli I always liked. Have no idea why though!

  2. What has this go to do with Liverpool?

  3. in most part its the fact that ex Liverpool players are commenting on him....wasnt tommy smith claiming disability then was caught taking a penalty...hahaha like i say tommy its doesn't matter how talented you are its about your attitude to the welfare state

  4. If you have nothing constructive to add, don't bother posting at all.

  5. Did Coutinho do/say something that would suggest in any way, shape, or form that this was beginning to happen to him?

    I'm a bit confused by that. I haven't seen/heard anything that would suggest accordingly.

  6. No, he didn't say anything. Smith just decided to mention it in his column.

  7. Iv always had a soft spot for Balotelli, he is a character. However I can understand the opinions of these ex players and it is not hypocritical of them to have this opinion. That would only be the case had they displayed similar traits to Balotelli during their playing careers.

  8. May the Coutinho comment was in the context of him being foreign? As if all foreigners are trouble makers?!?
    IMO there's no balance with feedback on Ballotelli, hardly a mention of his talent which is why the comments shld be ignored!

  9. Nicol had a shot at Sakho a few nights back too i think at times the man can be a bit harsh.
    Balotelli is a great talent flawed but great in a team struggling Sakho also had excuses but Nicol wanted none of it.

  10. I agree also, i like the guy.at least he has his own style

  11. i wouldn't be to concerned about ex pros views....some try to be controversial to make themselves relevant ....carra is trying to out do gary neville.... in some ways its painful to watch...is he being himself ( i dont know ive never met the guy ) or is he manufacturing a personna...it must be hard for a lot of ex pros one minute everyone is falling all over you the next there not

  12. Balotteli is something different.
    He has immense potential, and he's obviously world-class in terms of his footballing abilities.
    It is also clear that he has issues in terms of his personality. The question is if he has bad influence on his teammates. He clearly draws attention, but I wonder if he's not taking media attention away from the club and onto himself, which might result in his teammates having less pressure.
    That's just speculation, but I really do wonder about this one.
    I don't think I would have taken him to my squad. I prefer the Coutinho type of players(or Gerrard, Hyppia, Kuyt, Agger) who are quiet and gives confidence and not heart attacks through their performances(fAgger and Kuyt are controversioal examples, I know, but my point is the character and not the ability).

  13. I think his behaviour was more of an issue when he was at City, because he wasn't really producing on the pitch, and I think (from what I heard in various articles, true or not) it was also having a negative effect on team mates, i.e. arguing with them etc..
    He is in a way no different to Suarez, both are controversial, but both produce brilliance.
    One difference between them though is that when Balotelli is acting up, he lets it effect his performance, which in turn effects the team. So he will strop around the pitch, and be very uninterested. I guess at least Suarez always seems to put in a lot of effort.