20 Feb 2015

Why I Did It: Balotelli explains Besiktas penalty 'drama' and insists that winning is all that matters

As a result of tonight's penalty controversy, Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is once again polarising opinion, and he's now responded to the 'drama' surrounding his decision to take responsibility for the Reds' match-winning spot-kick against Besiktas.

Fans and pundits alike are foaming at the mouth over Balotelli's insistence on taking the last-gasp penalty, and after the game, he tweeted:

"Thank you hendo for let me take the penalty. Stop the drama now. We won that's what it count. We are a team and especially we are Liverpool. And thank all of you supporters . Thanks with all my heart. You are great."

I absolutely love that Balotelli had the confidence to demand the penalty, and the mewling, overwrought reaction from (some) hysterical pundits and fans is churlish in the extreme:

* Liverpool need the Italian to be confident and motivated, and taking control of the situation shows that he is willing and able to step-up and do the business.

* Historically, Balotelli has a superb record from the penalty spot, and he is more experienced in such situations than both Henderson and Sturridge. Indeed, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher suggested as much when he tweeted: "Pressure pen late in a big European game you want your best man on it. Balotelli was that man!"

* Who cares if there's a pre-assigned penalty taker? Balotelli needs the goals, and he needs the confidence boost that comes with scoring goals, and I'd rather see him fight to score than just apathetically slink away into the background.

Po-faced pundits will inevitably use this issue to continue the ceaseless criticism of Balotelli, but at the end of the day, Liverpool won the game, and that's all that matters.

For me, Daniel Sturridge's reaction is far more concerning than Balotelli's insistence on taking the penalty. Sturridge demonstrably moaned about the situation, and then failed to celebrate the resulting goal.

Whatever happened prior to the penalty should immediately be cancelled out by the ball hitting the back of the net, and Sturridge's sulking marred what should've been a joyous moment.

I'm just thankful that Balotelli scored; if he'd missed, the media would've crucified him, and the fallout would've inexorably led to the end of his Liverpool career. Instead, Balotelli now has 3 goals/assists in the last 3 games, which will hopefully be a platform for him to go on and regularly contribute over the next three months.

And if Balotelli's contributions ultimately help Liverpool win a trophy and/or finish in the top four, then the ridiculous furore over this issue will be remembered for exactly what it is: a storm in a tea-cup.

Bravo, Mario!



  1. I agree wholeheartedly with this. Even when he was out of form, Balo was easily one of our top PK takers, definitely above Hendo and Sturridge. Post match comments show that Hendo isn't really that bothered by it. I mean, yeah, at the time he was the Captain, and everyone wants to be the knight in shining armour who saves the side from defeat, but in the end Balo is simply more qualified to take it and just better at PKs than he is.

    I don't quite agree with "Who cares if there's a pre-assigned penalty taker?" I mean, these things are assigned for a reason. However, I have a hard time believing that Hendo was actually above Balo. I have a feeling that Balo was merely asserting himself when Hendo tried to take it using his "captain's authority."

  2. Balo should be pen taker if he is on the pitch and Gerrard is not. Balo should not be taking the ball out of Hendo's hands. He should ask the captain if he can take it.There has to be a cohesion in the team and these kinds of actions stress that cohesion.

  3. Balotelli has an incredible record at taking penalties. Sturridge's reaction before and after the goal was scored was disgraceful.

  4. imo looking at the replay Henderson seemed relived not to have to take it (it's subjective but he looks like he was looking for someone to take it, waiting quite a long time to get to the spot, whereas Balo took it when to the spot rightaway).

    Agree that it was not a nice way to take it but the best PK taker should go for it (captain or not), and without gerrard his record speak for himself Balotelli is the best.

    Actually wonder what's his record compared to Gerrard and other player in the team.

  5. I am at a loss to understand how Henderson was even in the frame to take the penalty. Does the captains armband make you a good penalty taker?
    I applaud Balotelli for his confidence and well taken penalty. I applaud Henderson for the way he handled it both on the pitch and during his interview afterwards. I am surprised that Sturridge got involved at all, but he didn't have a great game and was guilty of wasting so many opportunities with his selfish play.

  6. sturridge was by far the worst. he doesn't need to tell his captain to stand up for himself, he is not really a 'senior' player, as such, it is not clear if he wanted it for henderson or himself. all said and done, he wasn't really happy (apparently) when balo scored, that was just plain wrong.

  7. As he was walking away he said take it off him to Hendo.

  8. I'm so happy that the LFC fans are not giving into this media led witch hunt about disrespecting the captain. Because Steve's Steve, the media go along with it. Steve's just tryna verbally reinforce some non-existent authority for Henderson because he's on national TV but in all honesty, who does he think he is. Yes he's stepped up his game but he's not Gerrard. I mean after some of Hendo's set pieces tonight, I woulda taken the ball from him for the pen...

    I'm also so glad that most fans have given more concern to Sturridges behaviour rather than Balo. Balo scored, the team went to celebrate and Sturridge was still sulking. Credit to Hendo for still going back to partake in the celebrations but who does Sturridge think he is!? He's certainly not a Kop Idol like Suarez yet, far from it...

  9. If he'd had an altercation with Stevie about it had he been playing it would've been worse. As it was he was the best man for the job on the pitch and I had far more confidence in Mario sticking it away than I would have Hendo. Sturridge was the one who created the scene and should've let it go much earlier than he did.
    I've been Balotelli's biggest critic but I thought he made a big difference when he came on. Saw glimpses of a very good player tonight. If he can start producing performances like that on a consistent basis then he'll start proving the doubters wrong and perhaps he can have a future at Anfield after all.
    All in, a good victory to take over there. An away goal would probably seal the tie.

  10. It seems most of the fans are happy with Mario (as am I), which is as much to do with his improved attitude of late as it is his prowess from the spot. I don't think we should chastise sturridge or Hendo in any way. They did nothing wrong. I'm more disappointed by Gerrard for commenting on it in the way he did on live TV. He should know better

  11. Ice cold Mario has a few more surprises up his sleeve. He will be key in how well we do in this competition. Delighted for him, the team will have a chat and move on.that penalty is massive for the pool. Nice one Mario !

  12. Bravo Mario indeed. Let's be honest here. There are few who can take a penalty better than him or strike the ball as good as him. If I was Hendo I would have given the ball to him. Hendo needs to improve his striking and crossing of the ball. I rate Mario's skill level quite higher than most of the players in our squad. Thanks Mario.

  13. Tonight showed me that its a burden for Henderson to be Liverpool
    captian. He had a poor game up to that penalty moment and for him not to
    have the foresight to give the kick to Balotelli in the first place also showed me that he was caught up in being in the role of Gerrard and
    not of being a captain in his own style.

    If the players had a chance to sort this out behind close door Henderson would maybe have time to fit into the role but after Gerrard comments on ITV it has made Henderson look like someone who doesn't command respect who could risk his chances of being a long term skipper.

    I am very disappointed in Gerrard's comments tonight Balotelli wanted to score for the team not himself. Once again he made a impact when coming of the bench and he combined with Ibe to win that pen.

    Rodgers said that the penny has dropped for Mario but the penny has to also drop for LFC that Balo is a leftfield footballer in the manor of players like Cantona and Suarez...they don't follow the rules, they follow the moment and its moments that can win you games or lose you games. If liverpool want to win the big titles we need more players with the courage to take responsibility in those moments in the big games.

  14. Think a lion share of fans would be more confident with Balo taking the pen (than Hendo or Studge)... But for to say who care if there is a assigned penalty taker... isn't akin to you usual headlines of utter 'disrespect' or 'humiliation' headlines (which some may say Hendo must feel...deep down).

    This type of action from Balo will probably see him on the bench or omitted from matchday squad for Southampton. Then we'll get a article about 'BR drops £16m match winner...'. If Balo can't follow orders from a captain or manager, you can't expect him to start every game.

    Truth be told, most fan felt more confident when Balo took the ball off Hendo... Until Balo has cemented his place in the starting eleven and gets to the point his end product it so good (like Suarez or at aleast 3/4 of it).

    He need to follow orders, once he's producing the numbers. He'll be able to act the way he did today...as he's earned the right too.

  15. I feel Gerrard overreacted. He should realize that his comments can be very polarizing especially him still being on Lfc's payroll as well as being the skipper of the team. Balotelli is very much a better a penalty taker than Hendo. He is far more experienced. In an earlier part of the game Sturridge refused to allow Balotelli to take a free kick and he eventually fluffed it himself. Clearly Gerrard had demonstrated that he is fast becoming more of a liability in the squad than an asset. If he was unhappy about the Balotelli 'drama', then being the captain he should have had a private word with him and not publicize it publicly as a pundit. That was low! Why didn't he slate Sturridge in public for not celebrating the goal? Are there camps within the Liverpool team that is being now exposed by Gerrard's comments? It must be noted that ever since the news that Gerrard is leaving Liverpool at the end of the season, they have been doing remarkably well. It seems like a huge cloud has been lifted over the team's performance. Gerrard has dreams of becoming a Liverpool manger? Dream on !

  16. Absolutely agree with everything you said on this Jaimie.

    Mario has a remarkable penalty record.

    Hendo was happy for someone to take it off him, but then seemed to realize that "a captain doesn't step aside".

    It's not a gimme, it's a vital chance in a big game.

    Sturridge then looks to tell Hendo to leave Mario alone at the end.

    Stevie no. 1 penalty taker, then surely Mario next.

    Stevie really should just puss off to LA now and stop stirring shit. Hendo is also stalling on a new deal, he's not quite as good as he thinks.

    Bravo Mario, he is actually working harder now also and the Kop all approved of his actions tonight

  17. JK is right, Balotelli has an excellent record as a PK taker and was right to take the kick. Watching him line up to take it you just knew he was going to score. The positives for tonight were that we defended well, attacked well and managed to edge out a good side. Hopefully now that that have to attack more there might be more spaces to attack them in the return leg. Another positive, Jordon Ibe, excellent pefromance, and signs new contract. Not only that, there are other youngsters coming through like Rossiter, Sinclair and Ojo. If we do sign Lacazette in the summer, we could have a forward lineup consisting of Sturridge, Balotelli, Lacazette, Origi, Lambert and Borini. Hmmm, methinks with Sinclair coming through the ranks Borini's time at LFC might be coming to an end. Still need a decent backup goalkeeper even though Mignolet has got his mojo back. Would like to see Can in midfield next season and Ilori come back and step up to the plate. Such a young squad and so talented. Things are looking good for the future for LFC in my humble opinion.

  18. Almost forgot, we have Joao Teixara out on loan doing quite well at a struggling Brighton. Another bright spark for the future. The midfield just needs a hardman/defensively minded player for next season methinks.

  19. It was a dull game, and the media need some juice to put in print,
    A Ballotelli story is always worth reading, they suppose.
    It seems Hendo was nominated as the Penno taker in training by BR, (Who knew Mario would not be starting). but in the heat of battle and bottle, was not too pushed for Ballo to take it.
    Studge and Hendo are best mates so I feel Studge was just telling Hendo to assert his authority.
    Remember Everton had a similar situation a few weeks back, Miralas missed and was taken off soon after.
    But Ballo's record of failing to score from just 2 penno's throughout his entire career, even as a youngster, cannot be ignored, it is better than SG's believe it or not.
    I also thought he was magnificent when he came on, his skill and general play was from the Ballo we expected and hoped to arrive at Anfield.

  20. Jaimie, completely agree. I love you, let's be friends again.

    Indeed, I found Sturridges reaction far more off-putting, more specifically with the way he sulked after the goal. But I still love him too. People need to realise that this will just all blow over in the dressing room. The same thing happened last year with studge and Suarez. This is a further sign of balotelli and feeling like he belongs, and I'm stoked for that.

  21. I perfectly agree. I don't know if u r close with Gerrard or u can pass my message to him. I just want to tell him to shut up next time. He wants to become the manager of llc but we would hate him to manage the team. Brendan is there and we hope he is there till he retires. Thank you to gently pass my message.

  22. In the penalty takers ratings Balotelli is ranked 3rd in the world and Lambert tops the list throw in Stevie G and we are the most spoiled club anywhere for penalty takers.

  23. Far superior record, Ballo has only ever missed 2 penalties in his entire career, I think.

  24. Good goal, but this can only end badly.

  25. Agree with JK 100%..Sturridge is the story here! I don't have a problem with him arguing that Henderson should take the pen, but his reaction to the goal and effectively winning the game without conceding an away goal was pathetic!
    I said to my mate at the time, that I was glad Mario was taking it after that ruckus because he has the self confidence and bottle to deal with the ramped up pressure caused by the squabbling.
    Additionally, I think Balo has done ok since he arrived, things have been difficult for him, but the level of effort is way above that showed when he was at City. If he continues the work rate to fight and close down he could have a great partnership with Sturridge

  26. Ballotelli should be second in line to take a penalty if Gerrad is not in the pitch period.

  27. Jaimie, I can honestly say that I'm pleasantly surprised with the position you've taken here.

    As I said in the other thread, I'm a bit concerned that Hendo seemed uncomfortable with handling the situation.

    Albeit, the glass half full approach is that Balo took it by the throat and nailed it.

    The glass half less approach is that Hendo mismanaged the situation and Sturridge looked upset because he wanted it and didn't get it while Balo ignored him.

    Curious to see what happens Sunday.

  28. I can't remember Hendo ever taking a penalty for us. I can remember Sturridge taking one and missing it and Lambert I can only remember taking one in a friendly and he bloody missed it too.
    Anyway gerrard is our penalty taker and rightly so having done the business from the spot so many times for us but if he's not on the pitch and Balotelli is then it's a no-brainer that Balo should take them given he's somewhat of a penalty specialist. More than once in the past, I've heard him described as an overpaid penalty taker. We would be foolish not to take full advantage of the one thing he is consistent in

  29. This time a chance to hendo score for penalty kicker,because he more than assists for important goal before,I agree with Steven G,

  30. Disappointed with Gerrard for airing his views about Mario being mischievous taking the penalty. The whole discussion was then about in fighting. Hendo was far more diplomatic. Gerrard should remember hes not a pundit and still plays for the club...he should have made out it was nothing and saved his views for the dressing room and dealt with internally.

    it appears Gerrard is a f**ing hypocrite

    "I'm aware that he's a terrific penalty taker," said Gerrard after that match. "The manager has told him if I'm not on the pitch he'll take them."


  31. Disappointed with Gerrard for airing his views about Mario being mischievous taking the penalty. The whole discussion was then about in fighting. Hendo was far more diplomatic. Gerrard should remember hes not a pundit and still plays for the club...he should have made out it was nothing and saved his views for the dressing room and dealt with internally.

    it appears Gerrard is a f**ing hypocrite

    "I'm aware that he's a terrific penalty taker," said Gerrard after that match. "The manager has told him if I'm not on the pitch he'll take them."

  32. What was Henderson even thinking wanting to take the penalty !
    Well done Balo
    Jaimie maybe you should do a poll and see what the fans think about Mario taking the penalty ?

  33. Gerald is such a hypocrite, balo is a way better penalty taker than Henderson and Sturridge, but becauseof they are English he is carrying on as if we lost.....why isn't he going on about the amount of miss place passes hendo had