Mario Balotelli - The lost boy from Palermo
Rumours of Mario Balotelli being frozen out of the Liverpool squad have intensified in the last few days with the forward’s future looking bleak. Little has been made clear about his future with the Italian training separately from the main squad.
As a Liverpool fan I am equal parts torn between hysterical laughter and exasperation where Mario Balotelli is concerned. The internet is is positively littered with ridiculous stories regarding the Italian. It really takes a lot of investigation to discover which of these stories hold any truth or which are mere fabrications of the truth. That being said, I highly doubt he threw darts at youth players during his time at Manchester City nor do I believe he drove his car through the wall of a women’s prison.
Since his first day on Merseyside he has been a marked man, being labelled as a “calculated risk” by manager Brendan Rodgers. Balotelli was brought to the club to fill the huge void left by Luis Suarez departing for Barcelona. Expectations of how the Italian had to perform in Suarez’ stead were, quite frankly, ridiculous and unfair. His predecessor scored 31 goals in his final season at the club.
While many are of the opinion that Rodgers has never really given him a fair chance, and this holds some merit, Balotelli is also to blame for his failure at Liverpool. The mischievous striker was brought to Anfield as a result of Liverpool’s famed transfer committee. The crux of the matter is that Rodgers wouldn’t have signed Balotelli if he had a choice. So, from the very beginning he was unwanted. Sensing a theme?
That is Rodgers’ and Liverpool’s side in the story but Mario, the lost boy from Palermo, needs to take some ownership of a disaster of a transfer. If I really think about it and disregard the natural optimism that I had when Balotelli signed, there was a sense of foreboding.
I can fully understand Rodgers’ frustration and impatience with the 25-year old maverick. He seems to have no direction or ambition that is reflected in his actions and treatment of others. For instance, in training one day, Colin Pascoe, had huddled the group together and Balotelli found it appropriate to shout, “Hey, hey,” at an injured Jon Flanagan who was limping by. He was thus threatened with being sent to the changing rooms.
On the same day during a 10 vs 10 training game the Italian scored a brilliant goal from the halfway line against Brad Jones. The thing is he had scored in the wrong goal. He had spun on the half turn and fired at a hapless Jones. His reaction? He laughed hysterically in the center of the pitch by himself while onlookers and team-mates shook their heads in dismay. I am sure Suarez scored goals like that in training, but at the right end.
The irony is the Uruguayan, during his time at Liverpool, was actually guilty of a fair amount of genuinely bad stuff. He pulled the middle finger at Fulham fans in 2011, he bit Branislav Ivanovic in 2013 not to mention the racial abuse incident regarding Patrice Evra – which I don’t believe a word of. What is ironic is that even though Suarez was found guilty of several incidents which made Liverpool look bad, he is loved and adored by Liverpool fans. Then you get Balotelli – who is vilified as a prankster and for being a poor footballer.
Mario Balotelli’s time on Merseyside is certainly limited and the only doubt that remains surrounding his future is when he will depart and for which greener pasture? It will be interesting to see who is mad enough to take on Balotelli’s personality defects in the hope that he is transformed into a goal-machine. The fact remains that he is a “calculated risk” and perhaps there is a manager somewhere who can balance the losses and profits where Balotelli is concerned.
Its a shame that Balotelli didn’t quite work out because before his arrival at Liverpool I quite liked him.I would really love it if Balotelli turned his career around and I looked like a fool for labeling him a ‘lost boy’ like in the Peter Pan. The truth is though, he doesn’t have a home and seems to be wandering aimlessly from club to club.
You can find the orignial article on Michael’s personal blog – Rousing the Kop
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