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Liverpool’s Mario Balotelli: Saint or Sinner?

Mario  Balotelli is not someone to hide and keep quiet and attracts controversy whether he is playing in Serie A or in the Premier League. His latest assessment of Man United’s defeat to Leicester City causing a stir with the striker commenting : “Man utd…LOL” on Twitter. The sort of stunt that would of caused most managers to look elsewhere for a top quality centre forward  has persuaded Brendan Rogers to take a punt on the 16 million pound man.  Rodgers has claimed that he has always taking chances with difficult footballers and turning them into real forces.  Louis Suazez was hardly a man who shied away from headlines and looked how well Rodgers coped with him.

Although not as good as Suazez , Super Mario has a goal scoring record  that should not be underestimated. He scores important goals as well, the stand out one being the one he scored against Manchester United hours after setting a firework out of  his bathroom window.  A frustrating figure for any manager because he does things that others can’t and then simply undoes them with silly stunts. But it is this fact that he is so different that makes him such a potent force and a genuine threat to the opposition.  Players who think differently are often the best look at Eric Cantona or even Bruce Gobola.  Rodgers must realise what he has taken on but it should not be daunting prospect but  an exciting one, if he lets his talent out, then what a player he has got. He has also won the title and that level of experience must count for something in the dressing room.

There has to be a counter argument to this and it is really obvious that the decision to sign the Italian could back fire on Rodgers. Rodgers is a man who spends a lot of time in his press conferences highlighting the importance of team spirit and work ethic. Baltelli is not a striker who likes to roam the pitch as Luis Suazez did. So  work ethic is not what his strength but he can have a positive impact on team spirit. When results seem to be fading , having someone in a dressing room who will do something daft can take player’s minds off the issues that exist on the pitch. Having a sense of humour is not a negative , it is a positive.  From Liverpool’s point of view having someone to help take the pressure off must be a plus.

His critics will point to his time at Manchester City and the battles that he had with Roberto Mancini. The training ground bust ups and the constant side shows it caused. There is no denying that this could  be.,,,,,klem but Mancini was no Rodgers. His players by the end looked as if didn’t want to play for him , despite winning the title under him the year before. The Liverpool manager is not as confrontational as Mancini and will be able to handle him in a more sensible way. Mancini was firm but unfair whereas Rodgers is firm but fair. Hopefully Mario will respond in the right way and become a great player for Liverpool. People seem to willing him to fail but he can prove them all wrong.

Suazez was a one off and in a very different way so is Balotelli , and the former Liverpool player didn’t half turn out to be a good player.  Mario Balotelli has to realise that if he is going to pull stunts , he has to become a star player because managers will allow their star players a bit of leeway in terms of discipline but won’t for average players. He can become a star player but it might take time for his to establish himself as a real match winner. For the first time under the current regime Liverpool have a real target man. He will not  come deep to get the ball but then he doesn’t need to with Lucas, Allen and Lallana operating in the centre of the pitch. Ball playing and assist providing midfielders.

Pundits have made Balotelli  the target for criticism and accused him of being the main reason for Liverpool’s troubled start to the season. A bit odd considering that it has been the defence that has let them down  and not their attack. A controversial figure will always have headlines written about them but they are the ones who must ride the storm out.  While his latest Tweet may have raised a few eyebrows, Rodgers will have known what he was getting himself into. Last season was a one off and Liverpool will not challenge for the Title again, but they might finish in the top four again and that would be a good achievement.

Brendan Rodgers has certainly got a character in the dressing room and one which no one will be allowed to forget. It will be interesting to see how his man management skills are tested in the coming months. The goals will come but not at the rate the Uruguayan striker was putting them away at. Saint or Sinner? Rodgers has invested in someone who fits both adjectives but he can surely get the tall Italian firing.

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