10 Dec 2014

Redknapp blasts: €20m star is a 'disaster signing' for LFC, & must 'do better'. Agree?

Last week, Anfield legend Steve Nicol became the latest ex-Red to jump on the 'Balotelli is the devil' bandwagon, and despite not featuring in LFC's last six games, the Italian is being indirectly blamed for Liverpool's early exit from the Champions League.

After watching Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Basel (sorry that my 1-1 prediction came true!), Redknapp slammed the Reds as 'really poor', and seemingly laid the blame at Balotelli's door. He barked:

“The players they [Liverpool] have brought in have not played as expected to. (Mario) Ballotelli has been a disaster signing, and they have got to do better.”

In my view, the vituperative vitriol viciously vomited out at Balotelli is unfair, and it's wrong to connect him with LFC's failure to progress in the Champions League.

* Balotelli hasn't featured in LFC's last THREE Champions League games, yet Liverpool failed to win any of them.

* Without Balotelli this season, the team has still failed to win 70% of games. Clearly, the Italian is (arguably) the least of LFC's problems.

* For the most part, Rodgers has played Balotelli in the wrong position. He is not an effective lone-striker, yet the manager persists in playing him in that role, which limits his impact.

I'm not suggesting that Balotelli - who cost LFC €20m - is a successful transfer, but he's not as bad as the likes of Nicol and Redknapp make out. When it comes to positions, formation, and squad selection, Rodgers has repeatedly failed to utilise LFC's players in the most effective manner this season, and Balotelli is (arguably) another victim of that.

The key question is this: has Rodgers done enough to get the best out of Balotelli? For me, the answer is a resounding NO. Balotelli has to take responsibility for his own performances, but in order to succeed, he needs to operate under a manager who will play to his strengths, and Rodgers has singularly failed to do that.

Rodgers' tactical plan for Balotelli is pure amateur hour, and seemingly consists of the following pointless strategy: stick him up front! There's no nuance or football intelligence to this antiquated Allardycian approach, which strongly suggests that - prior to signing Balotelli - Rodgers lacked a specific plan on how to use him effectively.

With the right manager, Balotelli can be an effective player. Indeed, prior to signing for Liverpool, he amassed 114 goals/assists in 220 games (goal/assist every 1.9 games), which is an excellent record for a second-striker.

Clearly, Balotelli has the chops to contribute, and if Liverpool can't get him to score/create on a regular basis, then I submit the bulk of blame lies with Rodgers.



  1. I would love Balo to be a success at LFC. I want to see him and Studge upfront for a run of games

  2. First may I commend the use of four words starting with the letter 'v' consecutively in your post; as a writer myself that is an awesome thing of beauty :-)

    Second, Balo is a flipping nightmare of a signing - he is supposed to be the best 'player' in Italy or of Italian descent.
    My, my, if that's the case they are in deep trouble.
    Players of that supposed ilk; the best of their country; the likes of messi, suarez, neymar, robben, at one time gerrard etc. - these players inspire others around them to play to their best abilities, they inject an enthusiasm, a passion, desire to have the ball at feet, to change things, take them by the scruff of the neck and almost scream at the football match going on in order to have the balance in their favour.
    Balotelli just wants the ball to feet and to look a bit cool.
    Tepid action and lifeless, listless, limp displays - ok I'm not saying the rest of the gang are helping, cos they're not - but he's not exactly inspiring them to greatness is he?
    Last year, with pretty much the same guys the level was higher because Suarez is so passionate about being on the field, he had a real presence.
    So, yeah, until I see a game in which Balo plays with real desire and conviction; something infective that the other guys cannot ignore - I'll say he is probably not the best signing.
    Don't get me wrong I've also seen some 'what the f***' moments from our beloved manager this season as regards match management - so its not just all Balo.
    But I also wonder if people mean he is a disaster for the dressing room?

  3. "Vituperative vitriol viciously vomited". Haha try saying that when you're drunk

  4. four words expertly 'stitched' together.........

    reminds me of the film, 'the human centipede'!

  5. Balo has been a very poor signing more for his unsuitability as anything else. This lone striker excuse as flimsy as it is should have been reason enough not to sign him in the first place. But more than that he has none of the characteristics of what made us good last year. Truth is Balo is not the biggest problem but he is one of them. He should never have been signed and I have been saying it from before the ink was dry. As horrible it is to be right. Take set prices away from Balotelli and what are we left with?

    Also the only time I have ever seen Balo look good it was as a lone striker for Italy.

  6. As a writer I would have thought you would have used the term alliteration.

  7. Spot On!
    I was getting more and more frustrated week by week when I would see Balo isolated up front time and time again!!
    I know Sturridge is injured but we have other options.
    It's no coincidence that his best 2 games for LFC have been when paired with Sturridge and then Borini (although only for parts of the game) up front!!
    Rodgers has to put his hand up on his mismanagement of Balo!

  8. Hey there thanks for the great faith you put in my knowledge of English.
    However, I'm a writer not an English professor like yourself dude.
    And thank the almighty for Internet dictionaries.
    My striving to learn more words goes on.........,

  9. As far as first choice for Italy is concerned - when we bought him he was 'sold' to us fans as the 'best player of Italian descent', maybe they meant first choice striker, or best striker Italy have. I don't know.
    All I do know is the 'spin' was he was 'brilliant' and we should count our lucky chickens he's available for peanuts AND he wants to split a kidney showing us how he's a changed man, last chance saloon ect, ect.
    A lot has changed since then - obviously not your opinion judging from your 'poor signing' comment, you had the instinct he was wrong at start - but for us mere mortals, ie. blind optimists, we wanted to believe the hype.....

    ......I think it may have been a bit wrong.......

  10. More my limited English education brother. Apologies for the pithiness just the first thing I was going to comment on was his use of alliteration then read your comment.

  11. sorry to steal your thunder bro...

    I just couldn't help myself :-)

  12. Man I am king of blind optimists. I have been holding out for Markovic to show the bidness but Balo has never convinced me. When he was at City I preferred to see him on the team sheet against us and he didn't disappoint. The club were spinning his signing from the start but someone needs to get the chop for what was just the most inappropriate signing we could have made. I never expected a player like Suarez but we neeeded a player who could do a job up top alone. His crying about him not being best being up there alone shows how the fight that people were sold was false.

  13. I can't say vituperative sober.

  14. Actually, is there space for another king on that shelf of yours?
    Optimism and me are blood tied.
    You know, this Markovic kid looks really good, when he came on the other night I actually sat up on the sofa and got excited, I even went so far as to remove the cushion from in front of my eyes.
    He was fast, got to the second ball quicker than any of our guys from the first half and he also shook the opposition into going backwards rather than attacking us.
    I feel if the crowd give him a song or just sing his name and give him approval he will grow in confidence and prove you and I right.

    I think we need team players to play our brand of football - good ones - but team players nonetheless.
    Balo is not a team player - not from what I've seen anyway.

  15. I had trouble spelling it into my internet dictionary, let alone saying it!

  16. Rodgers MUST GO AWAY ASAP. He is sapping our confidence, players are reluctant to renew contracts. The owners need to restore confidence in the team urgently or new signings will be very rare and very expensive for us. The recruiting team also must LEAVE . We need to stabilize the team rapidly. I'd say even before sunday because we don't want anymore humiliation. Rodgers keeps on saying we'll come good when february comes and now he says he'll try hard in europa! Rodgers and his recruitment team have hurt us enough by giving us false hope each and every time THEY WANTED TO HIDE THEIR WEAKNESSES AND INEFFICIENCY;

  17. Yeah I can't see many fans getting behind a song just yet. There are plenty who love repeating that Rodgers has wasted loads of money and so reluctant to change that view without concrete evidence. We have a self fulfilling negative cycle unfortunately but hopefully Markovic, Can and Moreno can bust out of that circle and prove the promise they have can be fulfilled.

  18. I'm not sure I agree with the notion of sacrificing a player like Sterling, Coutinho or Lallana to play Lambert or Borini along side Balotelli. Obviously the main plan is for Sturridge and Balotelli to play together, likely with Mario playing in the deeper positions more often and Sturridge as the true centre forward. When that's not possible what you seem to be advocating for is dropping an attacking midfielder to make room for Borini or Lambert. It might make for a better formation but you have less overall quality on the field, less players capable of playing the football that Rodgers wants.

    I suspect that Lambert hasn't turned out to really be good enough for the club, not in the way that he's needed to play. He's played by default in the past few games because the first two options are injured but we've seen the results of that too. He just hasn't looked that good and while he's taken his two chances well he's otherwise spent long periods of time looking distinctly average. Playing him alongside Balotelli might have helped a little bit but it would have had a knock-on effect on the rest of the team.

  19. You realise the irony of the last part of that post don't you?

  20. Yes but it's not like it's a majority vote or something, or players would be forced upon the manager. They would have a pool of targets, and each member of staff would give their input. IMO, it's probably head scout (to relay what other scouts have found), Ayre (for prices) and Rodgers to make the final call. There might be some senior staff member there from the youth set up who knows. But Rodgers still has the final say, he has stated this. Again, Rodgers would have spearheaded the moves for any Spanish player as well as Borini and Allen. It also looks like Rodgers just did a huge favour for Lambert and signed him too. But if you look at someone like Markovic, maybe he was thrown up by someone else and he ended up being our second or third choice in the position we wanted and ended up signing him.

    As for the scouts leaving, don't look into that too much. Remember Borrell and McParland got the sack? What has that actually done to the academy? Have any replacements actually been hired?

  21. Once Balo and Sturridge return it will be lights out for Lambert, and rightly so IMO. More and more, it seems like Rodgers did Lambert a huge personal favour of signing him. What is the point of signing a dedicated and publicly designated back up striker who doesn't even fit the system? On occasions, Lambert looks worse than Carroll. He will sit on his contract for another 18 months and rarely make appearances if the team gets going.

    I have no problems with a lone striker system and Balotelli should have done better with some great chances he had early on. The diamond with Sturridge and Balo will be a possibility but it doesn't seem like a possibility with Lambert and Borini because they aren't good enough. Last season, it was worth changing the shape to accommodate two explosive strikers who were on fire the whole season. We don't need two up front to succeed and we can do it with a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3. Rodgers is clearly to blame with some suspect team selections reeking of a lack of both confidence and consistency. Regardless, the players should be performing a lot better than what they currently are.

  22. Yes some valid points obviously though the talent identified just has not been whats needed and committees often work in strange ways.
    As always though Pete you make some valid points i really would like to be a fly on the wall at these meetings.

  23. You only need to watch the first goal in that video to understand what Martinez brings. Firstly he's the guy who takes the link-up pass and smartly nicks it on to a forward facing player. He then works his ass off to get into the box, at first just running hard to get forward but then getting to the inside post. He takes the touch and can't get it on goal but the ball falls nicely for them and it would be fair to assume he has purposely sent the ball back out again. He then takes up a good position, makes sure he is onside no matter what, forces the defenders to single-mark himself and the other attacker in the box, and is the first to pounce on the saved attempt to finish the move. He's basically involved in every single part of the goal. That's the complete package, it's what Liverpool need and it's what Rodgers thought he could get from Mario, but Mario needs to increase his work rate another 50% to get to that level. Of course it remains to be seen if Martinez could do that in the Premier League where the defence is a bit tighter but there is no question in my mind that he's a step up from Balotelli. Frankly you do have to wonder why we didn't push for him in the summer and instead opted for the bargain signing that was clearly a risk.

  24. Rodgers said something about Gerrard in that role and why Lucas is playing now - basically that it was worth having Stevie G there because of the quality he had in front of him. When that quality goes you end up with a guy who can pass but no one to pass to. You have to try something else. I think he ended up getting stuck somewhere in the middle because for a while he persisted with Gerrard in the role when there was quite obviously problems up front. Liverpool suffered on many counts because of that but Rodgers stuck with it until it was too late.

    But I refer back to the article I wrote about this supposed 4-2-3-1 system because it seems like we used in plenty of times last year and had no trouble scoring goals. Or rather we used a system that looked like it. The difference for me is exactly what Rodgers says - the quality up front actually changes the worth of those players. You can have someone like Allen sitting deep-ish just in front of a true holding player and so long as the guys up front can make the right runs and take the passes it's not an issue. Allen's only job is to get the ball from midfield to the strikers and by simply looking at the results it unquestionably worked. Who cares if he could be called a second "holding midfielder" when we scored 2-3 goals a game? People still wondered what Allen was doing but it's hard to argue with the outcome. This year with an inability to score goals up front it becomes an issue. It's not just that we notice the second holding player because we're frustrated with the team, it's that we actively question what the hell he is doing a lot more. It's the same criticism as last year but it holds water now because we're not winning.

    I'm rambling a bit because it's hard to explain. Basically I think that the choice of 1 or 2 holding players is not really the issue, it's how they interact with the rest of the team. And it's not entirely the responsibility of those players to get the ball forward. If the target men are not in the right places or making the right runs then what else can someone like Allen do except knock around another pointless lateral pass? The missing SAS combination has a much more far reaching impact than just the obvious. It leaves the team in a very difficult spot because we're just totally ineffective with someone like Lambert up front on his own and Sterling trying to do it all. I actually don't think the "holding" players are doing much differently and so the assumption that they are misplaced is not entirely obvious to me.

    With Sturridge fit what I expected to see was probably a 4-3-3 with Mario wide left and Lallana on that side of the pitch but deeper. The diamond works too. But without Sturridge it's a total wash. The 4-2-3-1 could also work with Sturridge on his own. I agree that Mario could have done better and I think a few fans might lose their minds when he comes back and Rodgers continues to use the same system. I honestly still think the best outcome is for Liverpool to stick with the system that has gotten the results before and get the players to function properly within it. Not too many people agree with me on that, but I suspect Rodgers does and I'm reasonably sure this is what he'll do.

  25. Two holders is standard in a 4-2-3-1, Chelsea do it perfectly, Rafa had it with the best midfield in the world at the time. My problem with it is that you can have Lallana left, Coutinho central and Sterling wide. But instead, Rodgers takes the blatantly defensive option and sometimes leaves both Coutinho and Lallana out at the same time. Henderson on the wing is just nonsense and it's Dalglish's season all over again. Fair enough if it's Bayern away because Henderson can shut down a whole flank on his own, but it's not. He's not a natural wide man so it effects the fluidity of our play, not like it's great in other areas but it still has an effect.

    Is Joe Allen that good that Henderson is pushed wide? Hendo has been a key player but if he's out of touch just bench him for an attacker.

    I want to see the most attacking line up in the majority of fixtures. Again, Chelsea pull the 4-2-3-1 perfectly, a lot of big German clubs use it too.

    We have Coutinho and Lallana dumped on the bench, Borini not even in the squad, and the starting team is filled with boring and slow players. It's a complete dichotomy of last season. And, that's probably why Markovic looked so good for the 10 minutes he was on, he applied pace with a direct style to try and take the game on, take the initiative. No initiative elsewhere, zero from Rodgers thus far.

  26. I'd like to find the location of the meetings and give them a good slap.

    I totally agree on the signings. Not only did we not even go for a defensive midfielder, they tried to sell our only one!

    Liverpool get sucked into paying over the top on talent that underwhelms. It will never change mate

  27. Seems always the same doesn't it i really think there is something seriously wrong its where good to average players go to die seemingly.

  28. Asking a wrong question will only get you the wrong answer.Balotelli is not the cause of LFC poor form and he should not be blame for it,BR got it wrong in transfer market and up to this moment BR does not have a stable starting XI.Why was borini not in the team against basel when lazy lambert is the only striker on the team.its obvious that the poor form of LFC is rogers own making.

  29. Rodgers is crumbling under pressure and that is why he is making stupid decisions, like isolating Borini and constantly playing Joe Allen.

  30. Totally agree mate. Also, as well as not performing on the pitch he's inevitably creating negative publicity. Terrible signing

  31. I think the alot of the problems with the attack this season lie in two thngs. 1. Sturridge being injured for such a long period and 2. Origi being purchased but sent back on loan (I know this was part of the deal).

    Obviously with Sturridge injured BR has just gone with one up top, i think that with Strurridge and Balotelli up top it would have worked pretty well as Balotelli cannot play as a lone striker but thrives off another player making runs in behind creating space for him to get his shots away.

    Having Origi on loan means that the club will be reluctant to sign another striker knowing that he will be joining at the end of the season. Realitically Borini will need to be sold in Jan if there is any hope of a new striker joining the club.

  32. There is a committee but Rodgers brings the players to the committee -they just sanction or refuse .

  33. This is fantasy football stuff. firstly Martinez maynot want to join us as we have very little to offer at the moment and no champions league football as a carrot. Second 35 million is alot of money will the board trust Rodgers with this. I doubt it. Lastly if Martinez is available he will be 29 this year not exactly a spring chicken and no return on sell on will be possible, goes against all LFC holdings principles to date . Lastly if he is as good a striker as his stats suggest you can bet your life we will not be the only team interested. Saying "we are Liverpool" just is not going to cut it. I will believe this when I see it , until then it is wishful fantasy football stuff.

  34. He is also 29 and nobody else seems to be sniffing around him .I find that strange. Also at the moment we have nothing to offer to him to make him move.

  35. No Jay Jay, I think he lost it in translation.......

  36. Of course, if a committee does pick which transfers go through. BR's
    Arse is covered! If not, it shows how poor his(or their) judgment really is!
    Pepe is twice the keeper Wingolot will ever be! As for Baggoshite! Well,
    His attitude speaks volumes about him!!! And the person/persons who spent anything at all on him need a good arse kicking! Go to any park on a Sunday morning and you will find a striker with a proper attitude, and won't be practicing his Chris Eubank moody looks in the mirror all day!

  37. A healthy opinion on an unhealthy subject; self fulfilling negative cycle.
    Point taken and agreed....

  38. If LFC can't even offer Sterling a fair wage, they ain't going to allow this move... Sterling is crucial for LFC yet they offer him less than half what Sturridge the broken down china doll now gets.. I am constantly scratching my head trying to work out what is going throught the clubs mind... From what I can see, not much of note...We desperately need a striker aswell as a DM, but could face losing Sterling before the club get their act together...

  39. Just noticed the tremendous alliteration. Hats off, JK.

  40. Dries Mertens just scored a superb goal for Napoli. How I yearn for our players to strike the football that cleanly.

  41. How is he a "MIRACLE" goal machine??? LOL

  42. Even if they signed him.. we have ZERO chance of making it to the CL with brenda in charge. Anyone can see with his formation and lineups this year that he is a tactical moron. He is bereft of ideas and creativity (and yes I was saying this last year!!) and is clueless as to how to use the average garbage players he has wasted 110M on...