2 Oct 2014

Sort It Out: BR blasts 'miserable' €20m LFC star and warns: he 'needs to improve'. Waste of money?

Only six games into his Anfield career, and the knives are out for Mario Balotelli. The media is already exaggerating and sensationalising every aspect of the Italian's behaviour, and Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has warned the €20m striker that he must improve his creative output for the club.

When asked last night about Balotelli's performance during Liverpool's 1-0 Champions League defeat to Basel, Rodgers made it clear in no uncertain terms that he's not happy with the striker's performance.

He told reporters:

"He [Balotelli] needs to improve, it's as simple as that. Like any striker, or attacking player, he's judged on goals and assists, and at this moment, he hasn't hit the numbers".

Balotelli's stats so far:

* 1 goal/0 assists in 6 games.
* Shots per game: 4.8
* Passing accuracy: 76%
* Duels won: 40%
* Aerial duels won: 11%
* Tackles won: 100%
* Clearances/Blocks: 7
* Shooting Accuracy: 38.5%
* Chances created: 3

Clearly, Rodgers is right: Balotelli - described by Graeme Souness last night as 'miserable' - needs to improve, though, to be fair, he's not doing too badly on the defensive side of things.

Some site visitors criticise me for focusing too much on goals and assists, but as Rodgers himself has reiterated here once again, the primary role of a striker/attacking player is to score/create goals, and that is the principle criterion upon which they should be judged.

Key passes, chances created, passing accuracy etc are all important, but when it comes to the crunch, all that really matters (for attacking players) is goals and assists.

As for Balotelli - it's clear from the tone of questions at LFC's pre-West Brom press conference today that certain journos are just itching to stick the knife into the Italian, but for me, he should be given time.

Luis Suarez didn't have the greatest creative output when he first arrived at Anfield, and his conversion rate was pretty poor for quite a while. However, the Uruguayan is a naturally more gifted/exciting player than Balotelli, so he earned the endless goodwill of the fanbase pretty quickly.

Last night, Balotelli allegedly failed to acknowledge LFC's travelling away fans, so he's already making a rod for his own back. Still, there's plenty of time for him do the business, and once Rodgers consistently starts playing someone else up-front alongside him, his form should improve.

I have a feeling, though, that Rodgers will dump Balotelli on the bench the minute Sturridge returns from injury...



  1. Rogers is almost laughable at times ....balo isnt a loan striker he needs to play with a striker who is fast and gets in the box something rogers doesnt seem to realize......its funny Gerrard gets a free pass over goals conceded yet he is the deepest midfielder and whats even funnier is Gerrard said bazil where up for it more......ERRRRR hang on mate isnt it the managers and captains job to motivate the team ,double standards at play here once again Balo hasnt been great but for me neither has anyone else

  2. Is para 2 as you intended?

  3. An uninspired 0-0 would still have been a decent result against a side that always create problems for socalled bigger teams. Alas Skrtel once again showed that he's dangerous in both penalty boxes! If I remember correctly you Jamie were also quick to suddenly write off Agger - now he is gone.... Do we miss him...?

  4. The biggest issue with Balotelli is that he decides when and where to put the effort in, and often strolls about when there are thiongs he can do to help the team. If he was 80% of Suarez in terms of effort, he would have more time to bed in. He works, but not all of the time.
    He also clearly needs a support striker, as he does everything in slow motion, allowing himself to be surrounded and dispossessed where Suarez was always trying to isolate defenders 1 on 1

  5. No, Agger is not missed (IMO), and Liverpool should've sold him two years ago.

  6. Never have got my head around Rodgers “categorically” stating that Balotelli would not be signing for Liverpool and then doing an about face - surely we weren't that desperate and it wasn't just about value for money ? Could it be it was forced on him ...... Now anything BR says to the media I take with pinch of salt ,,,,,, ! Ballo will never be a lone striker for us and presumably he came in to play alongside Sturridge . We will soon find out if he cuts it ? Concerns me that his mind seems more on antics off the field than on it !

  7. Alright will have to disagree on that one. I accept his frailties, but he would have provided another outlet for bringing the ball up the field now everyone figured out to mark Gerrard out of the game - and let's face it the current structure (Mignolet, soft defensive mid, pressing backs) makes all our CBs look bad incl Agger at times. But stats supported him and he was at least in some ways a leader

  8. Rodgers need to look at himself a bit, his job is on the line.

    he s been out tacticed pretty much in every game and HIS attacking player had no influence, its looking more and more like Suarez was the only reason we got second and not his «genius».

    that defeat could mean our european campaign have finished before it has even started.
    we could still turn things around in the league if hes admitting he made mistakes but if we dont win the next few games its game over for us and for him, people are starting to forget how ruthless the owner can be...

  9. Terry McDermotts perm10:57 pm, October 02, 2014

    He's starting to remind me a bit of Hesky, a crap Hesky. its not helping the team having him at the top. A statue who doesnt get in the box isnt easy to play with. To be fair we need to see him with Sturridge and the Spurs game was easily the best so far, and he has his moments of class so fingers crossed. But at the moment for £16 million it looks like we paid too much.

  10. cant tell me that u dont miss agger when u have sackho and kolo as yo back up, i think he is better than both and i see future in coates than sackho

  11. Its no secret Mario needs to improve. For me his decision making has been simply awful. He shoots from anywhere when there are obvious passes to make. He runs into groups of players and loses possession a lot too.
    Thought I saw some dirty looks his way from Coutinho and Sterling a couple of times too.
    I was always against his transfer but now he's here I'll give him a fair crack of the whip. Sooner Sturridge is back the better

  12. Balo has exactly the right size and strength we need up front amidst all our little guys. That said, his work rate is pedestrian so far. He just doesn't run with the ball; only quick touch passes or back heels. Those are ok but we need him to move more not only in the final third but at least to midfield if the other team is carrying play. He HAS to be able to score while on the move. To do that, he actually HAS TO MOVE!!!!

  13. Jock,
    you have hit the mark squarely in the center my friend.............

  14. Heskey put in a whole load of effort and appreciated playing for a great club. Much like Peter Crouch, not the prettiest but at their best, better than most of what we have up front.

  15. The issue with Mario and for that matter Lambert is there are not the most mobile of #9s and dont run into space or the channels. This compacts the play, and we're not able to thread the needle.

    Once Sturridge is back, you'll see the difference he makes to the team,

    Hence fault is not so much Mario, but how BR has wasted £100m, and not added any pace to the squad.

  16. BR is feeling the pressure with an underwhelming transfer. If he wanted a replica of Saurez why buy Ballotelli??!! Smacks of clutching for a scapegoat. Ballotelli needs to work harder no doubt, but if you play him as lone striker where's the support?
    I'm more concerned about the ineffectiveness of Lazar whose shown nothing whatsoever. Blind alley runs, barely shows any skills, doesn't get to the by line to put a cross in. Scared to shoot all for 20mill. Just when Ibe was showing so much promise.
    The biggest concern is the defence, chopping & changing central defence won't help. I don't think Lovren is that bad, give him time to build the relationship with Skrtel. Then there's Gerrard! Think about all the midfielders we've ignored- Song, Wanyama, Diame etc. Either one could have helped us keep a clean sheet against Basel.

  17. Balotelli needs to be managed. Thankfully we have a good manager. I fully expect the player to have a bit of a sulk, a drop in confidence, a period of not knowing what he's doing. It's obvious that what Rodgers is asking him to do is totally foreign to him and, like a few other players before him, he's struggling with that. It was the same with Aspas, but the difference is that Balotelli is younger and more talented and I think everyone believes that he has the tools to be good enough. Rodgers ultimately didn't have to rely on Aspas so he didn't use him, that failure to adapt became a non-event but I don't think we have that luxury with Balotelli. Maybe a game or two on the bench would do him good but he needs to keep his head up, keep working hard and fighting for the team. Rodgers needs to keep his mental state good and dropping him to the bench indefinitely is not the right move for Balotelli right now.

    I think he needs to be used the way Rafa used Crouch those first few months where he simply couldn't score if his life depended on it. It's a similar situation: a particular manager with very particular ideas asking a player to do things he's not used to. Crouch struggled with the things Rafa asked him to do but after a few months he shrugged off the shackles and decided to simply assert himself as a player. It seems like the player defied the manager to simply be his own man but I think it was a master stroke from Rafa. You drill and drill and drill the player in the way you want him to play, being really particular with your instructions and tactics and then, when he re-asserts his own instincts and talent, those good habits are already ingrained. Crouch probably thought he was ignoring the manager and doing his own thing but Rafa had already coached him into being the player Liverpool needed. In the end Crouch had a decent goal scoring record for Liverpool and Balotelli can exceed that. Rodgers will work and work with Balotelli, get him to a place where those attributes we need are simply ingrained, then Balotelli can fall back to his instincts and his natural skill and talent. I think at that point we'll have a very good player. It's just going to take a while.

  18. Looks like Liverpool with the help of Mario Balotelli will try every way it can to erase the wonderful memories of our magnificent season just last year by managing to find even newer ways to suck with each game played.

    If scoring goals is not the job of a striker like Mario Balotelli then why in the hell was he signed. Right now Mario is more active on social media getting high on helium than he is on the pitch. Clearly he doesn't have the movement up top of Suarez nor does he have the ability to hold unto the ball at all. Yeah Jamie's short term memory fails him in regards to Luis Suarez when he says that he didn't have the greatest creative output when he first arrived. Well he had a lot more creative output than Mario Balotelli currently has. Suarez like Balotelli arrived at Anfield with a bad reputation already in place but the Uruguayan new his business on the field and didn't need time to adjust to the English game like Balotelli who has already played before in England. Suarez was able to find the back of the net in his very first game for Liverpool under then manager Kenny Daglish.

    The difference between Saurez and Balotelli was that Luis was able to back up his crazy antics on the pitch by putting the ball consistently in the back of the net. The only thing Balottelli has done consistently so far has been to fall down.

    Many a players have been a handful for their teams and managers in the past. I remember the headache that Craig Bellamy gave Newcastle while he played for them but just like Luis Saurez he put that ball in the net again and again and again and again. Which was why he was tolerated by everybody.

    The Balotelli clock has started ticking he will be expected to produce or we could see him shipped off by summer next year.

  19. Not too badly on the defensive side? Aren't you the guy that always says all that counts for a striker is goals and assists JK? Personally I don't care about him getting a new hair cut but that's all he seems to be focussed on. The guy is the most overrated player in world football and only a transfer sucker like Rodgers could have been fooled into buying him. Worse than Carrol and Heskey put together.

  20. Two years ago? When he was an integral part of the last decent defense we had?

  21. Heskey wasn't bad.

  22. Great post, Balotelli has been asked to play a new role which will take time for him to adapt. Time BR realises he may not have owing to the massive amounts spent, the higher expectations of the board & fans. He possibly thought that he was a manegerial genius last season but the reality is that Saurez & Sturridge carried an average team. By this I mean they were so good as a partnership it papered over the cracks, no consistent goal scoring from midfield, toothless midfield & disorganised defence. Fact is you put £150 mill in mourinho or Wenger's hands you get a better outcome. The curse on LFC is the persistent shafting in the transfer market. Had we bought a more robust DM (Song, Diame, Wanyama) & a more dynamic striker eg Remy in addition to bloodying Ibe & Suso we'd most likely be better off. No hindsight needed!

  23. Terry McDermotts perm9:01 am, October 03, 2014

    Yeah he's making Heskey look good...and mobile!

  24. Great post Adam. Have you any plans for another guest article?

  25. Wow, you found a way to apologize for a guy who has no real concrete talent but is more known for his bad boy reputation. Balotelli has been fortunate to score some really big goals in big matches for his former clubs and his country. Anyone who has really followed his career would have to have noticed his major flaw which has been a lack of consistency. The only thing he has done since coming to Liverpool consistently has been to fall down.

    You say that Brendan Rodgers is asking Balotelli to do something that he is clearly not comfortable doing. I don't know what you mean by that. He is not playing in a foreign position at Liverpool. He is playing down the middle where he has always played. He has been asked to score as many goals as possible by the manager and you are right that is foreign to Mario and would be difficult for him to do.

    I hate to say this but judging Mario on current form alone since coming to Anfield he is no better than Andy Carroll.

    Ballotelli's flaws were hidden to a certain effect when he was at Manchester City because he was surrounded by world class players. Anyone on that team would have looked really good yeah even Andy Carroll.

    Balotelli's major weakness is his lack of movement off the ball. He is not the near the energizer bunny that Suarez was for us. When compared to other big men in the game who are not blessed with pace people like Eden Dzeko, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Emmanuel Adebayor etc he pales in comparison.These players all have a few things in common they are more consistent in their ability to create space for themselves or to hold up the ball till teammates can arrive to help and more importantly to finish when chances come their way.

    Ballo is a work in progress and is really not suited to playing in Liverpool's system which consists of fast paced movement of the ball when hitting back on a counter or simply exploiting open spaces. It is a mystery as to how Rodgers sees a Ballo as replacement for a player who scored 30 goals by himself last season. Ballo would be lucky if he scores 10.

  26. Would that be the defence with less clean sheets than the following season? Apparently that is a to judge defenders no? Four goals less conceded yes but far less clean sheets and more loses. The last decent defence we had was under Rafa.

  27. Aside from coming too deep, Mario hasn't done much wrong. The service to him has been truly AWFUL. Him and Sturridge will be GOOD.

  28. "You say that Brendan Rodgers is asking Balotelli to do something that he is clearly not comfortable doing. I don't know what you mean by that"

    Yes you do ...

    "Balotelli's major weakness is his lack of movement off the ball"

    "ability to create space for themselves or to hold up the ball"

    "Ballo is a work in progress and is really not suited to playing in Liverpool's system which consists of fast paced movement of the ball"

    Rodgers is asking Balotelli to work off the ball, create space for team mates, hold up the ball and work in a system with quick passing and movement. That might work out or it might be a massive failure. It seems like you mostly agree with me.

  29. The more losses had much more to do with our lack of goals than our goals conceded. 4 goals less conceded make a difference. Last season City conceded only ten less than us and you tell me what the difference was.

  30. Less clean sheets. As in more games where we conceded is that not a bigger problem than four goals? Ten is one hundred and fifty percent more than four. So that is much bigger yes. They also had a lot more clean sheets. More loses And less clean sheets says worse defence despite starting the season well.

  31. Conceding one every game doesnt matter when you score two every game. A clean sheet means ad much as a 5-0 win. It's nice and good for confidence but not absolutely necessary. Although I agree that more clean sheets certainly helps