Balotelli: The Gamble Liverpool could ill afford

The power is now in Balotelli's hands, which could spell trouble for Rodgers


At a time when Liverpool looked to be maturing into a team that could challenge for the Premier League, Brendan Rodgers took a gamble.   

Rodgers gambled on a footballer who has proved difficult to handle at the biggest clubs in the world. A player with a petulant and irrational streak, one who sees an aggressor lurking around every corner.

Why always me? Hmmm... Maybe because you want it to be Mario? For it seems Balotelli never gets tired of attention, and scarcely cares whether this is positive or negative. 

This is a player who wore an AC Milan shirt on television as an Internationale player and a month later threw his Inter Milan shirt on the floor after being criticised by a fan.

This is the player who recorded four red cards in the 2011/2012 season for Man City, when he wasn't busy setting off fireworks or throwing darts at people.

And this is the player Brendan Rodgers signed before the 2014 season.

Perhaps this wasn't a gamble at all, perhaps it was a mistake. A hasty decision made in the panic to replace Luis Suarez. 

If I was a Liverpool fan I would be livid, not just because livid works well alongside the word Liverpool. At the end of last season, Liverpool went agonisingly close to winning the league. They were a club on the up - the out of form players such as Jordan Henderson were improving, the rise of Raheem Sterling was imminent, and Steven Gerrard was the perfect captain to guide this promising side. The team was undoubtedly boosted by Suarez but also showed plenty of promise without him.

Rodgers had managed to do the hardest thing in football – create a team.  A team which doesn't rely on one player. Where players play for each other and their manager, where egos don’t have a place on or off the pitch, and where defeat hurts.

All seemed so well and Champions League football beckoned, and then… a perhaps unforgivable decision was made for the club.

Super Mario - mushroom splatterer, shell dodger, chum of Toad - arrived at Merseyside at the price of a biscuit, but at the threat of risking it. An unsettling character was to be integrated into a team which didn’t need it, which was too young to handle it.  

Apparently the price was too good – which begs the question how much should it cost to set back your football club?

Or in the words of Jamie Redknapp, "There’s a reason when you go to the supermarket and things are half price."

Rodgers should have stuck with his gut which initially told him NO! He should have realised there is no reason Balotelli would behave himself for Liverpool when he has struggled in his native Italy. That a player too difficult for Mourinho is probably too difficult for him. And anyway, why would Balotelli be loyal to Liverpool – what connection does Balotelli have, did he even know what Liverpool was? 

People said it was Balotelli’s last chance at top league football and that he was desperate to prove himself. Come on now, let's not be silly and pretend that every player cares so much about football. There are plenty of clubs which will pay for his name, failing that there is the promise of a financially fruitful future in Russia or Asia.

Rodgers has now got to face up to something even more destructive than Balotelli - his ego. It got him into this position, and only saying 'tally-ho ego' which will get him out of it. He simply stands no chance against the irrational whimsy of football's Peter Pan. 

Balotelli has got to go. It is not fair on the other players to have such a provocative influence around, especially one who is not performing on the pitch. Even if Balotelli’s form dramatically improves, it will only be achieved by the whole team rotating the earth so it revolves around Planet Balotelli.

Mario needs time, resources and babying which Liverpool don't owe him. They need stability and calm if they are to rekindle the form they showed last season. That brought them so desperately close to winning the league.

I really wanted to see what happened to that team.


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