I wasn’t going to write this straight after the match.
For many reasons, I wasn’t going to write this. I wasn’t going to write this. I was going to wait until morning. Wait until I’d calmed down a bit. I certainly wasn’t going to write it with a glass of wine in front of me. Not with my third glass of wine in front of me. And, given that we’re now -12.07 am Thursday morning – seven minutes into my 51st birthday (Jesus, how did that happen?) I certainly wasn’t going to write it on my bloody birthday.
And I swore that this season, all season, no matter the provocation, I would be nothing but blindly optimistic, loyal to a fault. So I wouldn’t write it.
But I’m writing it. I’m writing it whilst annoyed, whilst drinking and whilst enduring on of those birthdays that make no sense and just add up to stupid numbers (You’ll all get there, you’ll know what I mean.)
I’m not annoyed at losing to Real Madrid. It’s okay, they’re kind of good, it was kind of expected. There was always the chance that we’d lose. It didn’t matter that we were all wandering round at six o’clock with that ‘2-1, it’s going to be 2-1, you can feel it, can’t you?’ attitude. We all knew, deep down, that there was a possibility of losing and we were probably all fairly certain that we could – given the way we’ve been playing – lose this one fairly badly.
There was potential for embarrassment here.
3-0? Yeah, whatever. As John Gibbons points out, Real did Bayern 4-0 last season. And Bayern put seven past Roma. So we’d obviously beat Roma 11-1. Or something. It’s just maths isn’t it?
So it’s…well, ‘one of them’ basically. We played against the best team in the world and for 20 minutes we looked pretty damn decent and then they decided that, all things considered, they should probably play like the best team in the world.
So they did. For about half an hour and then they had a bit of a rest. And we still couldn’t score against them. Partially, one might think, because we didn’t have an actual striker on the pitch.
And THAT is what I’m annoyed about.
At this very second I never want to see Mario Balotelli in a red shirt ever again.
I may mellow. I doubt it.
I was all for Mario. Thought it’d be a laugh. Thought it’d be the madness back again. £16m to get the madness back again? Yeah, go on, I’ll have some of that. I had one little qualm; I was always happier against City when Balotelli was on the pitch, he didn’t cause us problems.
But that was City. He’d be different for us, wouldn’t he?
He wasn’t great against Spurs was he? No, but he’s just a bit rusty. He’ll be fine, just needs some game time. He’ll sort it. This is his last big chance. He knows it. He’s grown up, he’ll take this opportunity, he’ll rise to it, Brendan will do with him what he did with Sturridge.
He doesn’t score many does he? No but look, he’s putting a shift in isn’t he? He’s actually tracking back, he’s closing down. It’ll be fine.
He doesn’t move round a lot does he? No but maybe we just need to get used to the fact that he does it in bursts, that we’re not going to get 90 minutes of pure Suarez from him.
Brendan says he’s not Suarez? Yeah, spotted that, Bren. Cheers. Do us a favour, tell us what he is will you? Beause I’m not sure any more.
I’ll tell you what he is. He’s over. Finished. No coming back from this one. He’s lost us. Can I speak for all of us on this one? I think I can, I was one of the calmer voices in our little Kop-centric world tonight. He’s lost us.
Look at it this way. You’re Mario Balotelli. You’re playing in the biggest game that the team that’s given you your latest last chance has played this season, the biggest game they’ve played for a fair while. You’re the only truly fit, supposedly world-class – can we cross that out? Change it to international class? – striker at the club. Your manager yanks you at half time and replaces you with a midfielder thus becoming, quite brilliantly in fairness, the first team ever to play with two false nines. The team without you, the team without a striker, looks better for the change. The simple fact of your absence has improved your team.
How do you feel?
Embarrassed? Ashamed? Devastated?
None of the above?
Which of us truly believes that Mario Balotelli feels even vaguely arsed?
Do we know what it was that saw Rodgers pull him? Was it the refusal to square to Sterling in the first 10 minutes? At the point where a goal would have reflected the dominance that we were showing? Was it the very public berating of Sterling for……no, not entirely sure what he thought that was for to be honest. Not passing from a ridiculous position to a player who would have done nothing with it? Only thing I can think of.
Was it for the kind of movement up front that made Andy Carroll look like a tactical genius?
Yes, there were things that Balotelli did well in that first half. Held the ball up well, skipped into space quite menacingly, played treating through balls. But for every good moment there were three that appalled, all of which stood out far more than any good work could hide, accommodate or justify.
Was it for this? Was it for the thing that we couldn’t see at the match?
At half time Mario decides that it’s a good idea, an appropriate idea, to exchange shirts with Pepe. In the tunnel. Three nil down. Three nil down, little chance of recovery, certainly none if your prime striker has decided that’s his shift for the day.
It’s not the action of a Liverpool player. It’s not the action of a serious professional footballer. It’s amateur. It says that you respect the opponent more than yourself. It’s a disgrace to the shirt. We’ve kind of overlooked the fact that Brendan Rodgers had to order Mario to applaud the fans that had travelled to Basel at the end of that particular fiasco. Overlooked the fact that he still didn’t do it. Overlooked the lack of respect.
So we sing for him. ‘Mario Magnifico, Mario Fantastico.’ We sing a song that he hasn’t earned while he shows no respect for his colleagues, manager, fans or club.
We wondered which Mario we were going to get. There’s the answer. That’s the Mario we got. The same Mario everybody else got. The only Mario there seems to be. The one that only cares about Mario.
The answer? Sell him. The day the transfer window opens, sell him. To anyone who’ll have him for whatever they’ll pay. Cut our losses and get rid. He doesn’t deserve us and we deserve better. Buy someone. Anyone. Just a body to stick up front that can move round a bit; it’ll be an improvement on the fact that, as long as Mario is on the pitch, we’re playing with 10 men.
I might have calmed down by the time you read this.
I doubt it.
Pic: David Rawcliffe
I read half of this and stopped. Another Balotelli hatchet job.
Might have agreed with you if I hadn’t witnessed last night and QPR.
Was fully ready to embrace the madness when he signed but both patience and hope is wearing thin fast. I can only imagine training & playing alongside him is far more frustrating than watching on, the stinking body language & nonsensical decisions. It wasn’t his fault we got beat, but I fear the tide is turning quickly for Mario.
Come on now, be fair. The drunk chap makes some legitimate points. As LFC fans we deserve better. Every player has bad games, not every player is cut out to play for Liverpool, but no matter who you are, if you pull on that red shirt, you show it (and the fans it represents) the respect it deserves. Mario Balotelli was a disgrace last night, and before that his attitude has been questionable at best. If Mario can’t get motivated for Real Madrid at Anfield then there’s no hope for him. He’s practically finished here. The only glimmer of hope, if it can be called that, is we’re stuck with him until at least January, so his game may change when partnered with Sturidge and supported by Sterling, Coutinho and Lallana from behind. I personally doubt it will make much difference, but it’s all we have to cling onto until we can replace him with someone who gives a shit. As the saying goes, the saddest thing in the world is wasted potential, he has all the tools to be one of the best, but there’s nothing but a vacuum between his ears and apathy in his heart.
I think at this moment in time every Liverpool fan can be forgiven for wanting to write a ‘hatchet’ job about Mario.
Mario is crap, pure and simple
I get the feeling he is effecting team moral. He stops us playing fluidly because he is unable to make intelligent runs and none of his team mates have a clue what his going to do when he has the ball.
Please get rid of him, I have had enough of him and I’m sure his team mates feel the same way
His blind shots from ludicrous positions, with players in the box, is what’s angering me. It’s getting absurd. Mario’s one demonstrated skill is strength with the ball at his feet and defenders at his back. One thing we’re missing from last year is late runs from the midfield into the box. We have the personnel for it. On paper that should work well together. Instead, Mario will hold it up for a few seconds, then lash one, weakly, nowhere near goal. Every time. No one’s running for him anymore bc they know what’s coming. Sturridge back will improve the rest of the team, and I’d love to see Origi in red as soon as contractually possible.
I will say, he can turn this around. Not giving up hope yet, Mario’ll benefit from Sturridge back, too.
The only reason I can think why we bought him was because we desperately needed a striker and he was available. We haven’t played with a target man, we got rid of Carroll ASAP, but this summer we bought 2 and neither are/were particularly prolific. Balotelli only scored 15 goals from open play over 2 seasons with Milan, so what did we see there that could help us? I can sort of understand the Lambert signing. He knew he was gonna be 3/4th choice striker, rarely gonna start and would be only used in cup matches and perhaps in the last 15mins of league games. Plus he only cost £4mil. Balotelli is Balotelli, always has been but what were we doing buying him in the first place?!? It’s madness!! Our transfer policy doesn’t work! I find it hard to blame Balotelli for the position we find ourselves in, I blame the transfer committee!
Agreed. Give him away now.
1. Rogers is incompetent.
2. Pool finished second last season because of Suarez and because they were in no other competitions. They had a free assault on the league, no europe, no domestic cups to distract them and yet they still failed to win the league. (for reason why, see point 1).
3. Suarez was replaced with very poor players, worse than Tottenhams 7 last season.
4. Paying over the odds for the last ten years for average players.
5. Gerrard is a complete liability and is now only good for the odd free kick or peno.
6. Liverpool lost to Basel and should have lost to Ludergorets.
7. This Liverpool team is the worst english team to play in Champions League. They are a disgrace and embarrassment to the Premier League.
8. Stop blaming it all on Balotelli, the entire team and manager are rubbish.
1. He’s made mistakes but the jury is out. He’s done some very good things and made some good decisions. Just as I disagree with people calling him a genius, I disagree saying he is bluntly incompetent.
2. Based on evidence it’s hard to disagree with this, but Rodgers was not the reason we didn’t win the league. Only partly maybe due to not sorting out the defence even a bit, as it might have been enough. Other factors such as City starting at a higher level then spending another fortune were more important.
3. We don’t know this yet. He was replaced by players who are currently under-performing. There is a difference. Only time will tell if the likes of Markovic are poor.
4. We have to pay over the odds at times. If a player is worth £6m the club selling him will ask Everton for £6m for him. They’ll ask us for £8m.
5. Can’t disagree.
6. Bit of a stretch to say we should have lost to Ludogorets. They were never ahead at any stage. A draw would have been a fair result. Still not good enough but you’re wrong.
7. This is bollocks. Blackburn in 95 were 100% worse. City in 2012 as well. Maybe Leeds in 92 & Utd in 05 as well.
8. Balotelli is being used as a scapegoat in certain circles and its wrong.
u just took the bait from a Tottenham Fan… nice one!!!
That would explain his bitterness about the CL, and everything else really.
Honestly were do these people find the time? I can’t conceive of looking up a rival team’s website, reading articles and commenting on them: I’m not fucking interested in other teams. Guy needs to get a life.
Why are you on an English teams site? don’t you have your own teams in Finland? Honestly, where do these Fins get the time.
‘Cos I’m from Bootle but now live in Finland.
‘Cos I first went to Anfield in 1979 and have been a red since 1976.
Perhaps you should go back to your UKIP site.
2. Really you find it hard to disagree! Based on this logic utd will win the league this year then? See how that pans out. We finished second and all of a sudden it’s a failure by Rodgers. We haven’t won since 1990 – no doubt that is his fault too. Wise up!!
It was the only time since we actually genuinely looked like winning it – Rodgers deserves respect not this bull!
Em, no. Utd this season do not have the same set of circumstances that we had last season so your point is nonsense. Do you want me to list the oh so many massive differences?
Buy a telly
1) you are talking bollocks
2) you are a wank mank
3) fuck off
The problems at LFC are far greater than Mario.
Last season was great because of Luis, and because the team was built to suit his many strengths. ..and because sturridge was played centrally.
Rodgers and sturridge were made to look great, largely due to Luis being an irrepressible force imo.
Rodgers first season was average, and this season looks set to be average too.
Br insisted on no DOF, he insisted on choosing the players we bought, but so far, how many great players have been brought in on his watch? no doubt he envisaged himself transforming mario into a consistent world beater, walking off arm in arm into the wind and rain.
Luis was the reason we were great. its rather simple.
Irony of talking about professionalism.
Robbie Keane scored 5 in 19 and Liverpool sold him after half-a-season at a massive loss, I’ll be surprised if Mario can match those stats before Xmas … we’ll see …
Agree with every word.
His body language reeks of ‘can’t be arsed’ for 95% of the time he’s been here.
Get rid of him in January.
Rodgers is as out of his depth as Mario has been. The lack of a plan, any plan, following Luis’ departure has been as big a fuck up as any we’ve made the last ten years. That and Rodgers flippant attitude towards the finer arts of defensive organisation. We have no foundation to build on now that Luis is gone.
Naivety and arrogance.
Nonsense – in his second season he nearly won the premier league for us. Never been closer since 1990.
Let the team find its groove – Real Madrid will beat us currently 9/10 times we play. However we still in position for top four even though we are not at full tilt yet.
Need to live in the real world – if we not winning threes and fours every game Rodgers is shit?! Again we near won the league last year and it looks like that has good people expecting a cake walk to title and Champions league.
Playing poor but right in the hunt for top three/four. Can only be positive for the season going forward.
Brendan needs to stick to his convictions and dump Balotelli full stop. He should never have allowed him to be imposed of him anyway. Everything will start to improve once he is moved on.
Many seem to be missing the point about Balotelli. Liverpool didn’t bring him in to be the main sole striker on the squad. They brought him in to be a complimentary striker to play by Sturridge’s side. At his current level of development as a player, Balo is not someone you can just randomly throw out as the sole striker on a team and expect endless goals. Maybe if he was integrated into the system for a while and was familiar with his teammates/tactics then he could fill a void when resting Sturridge or for games of less importance. If this situation we are experiencing now was toward the later part of the season then maybe some of these critiques of Balo might be more valid because he would have had experience with the quad. To just throw him out there from day 1, with no pre-preseason (or training with the squad) and to scapegoat him when there are no goals is just ignorance.
Balotelli isn’t Suarez. He is his own player. Suarez could create havoc up and down the pitch and that just is not Balotelli’s style. Balotelli may be known as a hot head, but if you watch him in big games then you see his actual football skills stay very cool. Suarez had a tendency to be mentally fragile but it would actually affect his football skills, unlike Balo. Example: Liverpool couldn’t break through against Chelsea at home. Balotelli in that environment can be even more dangerous than Suarez (if someone like Sturridge is by his side). I say this because Suarez tends to be a front-runner. Once the pressure starts to mount, his football skills start succumb to the pressure as well. Balo has the reputation of being a hot head, but his football skills are not squandered and rendered void in moments of truth. The most recent example was against Ludogorets. Look at his goal and how calm the actual football skill was.
I am reserving judgment on Balotelli until I see him on the pitch with Sturridge, developing a partnership. Using injuries as an excuse for Liverpool’s underwhelming performances this year is unacceptable. But you have to understand that instead of bringing in new signings (like Balo) and integrating them into a system, Liverpool has been forced to simply ad-lib and wing it due to injuries. Liverpool was never going to pull a Tottenham (Bale departure). But in some ways they were actually forced to pull a Tottenham during the early part of this season because they were unable to integrate their signings into a flowing system because key hogs were injured during pre-season and then during the early part of the season.
Don’t let the Madrid result discourage you. There is still time to see what this team is made of. Liverpool is 5th in the EPL, ready to break through and there is still time in the Champions League for Liverpool to get healthy and flowing….to prepare for the knock out round.
And for Balo? I am reserving judgment until after I see him playing next to Sturridge. I believe Balo can be a back-breaker to other top squads once the threat of Sturridge is up front with him.
Liverpool fan talking ere. I agree entirely with Yawkee. We as liverpool fans should be supporting are players right through to the end, FACT. Since Balotelli has joined the club the majority of fickle fans were already waiting to critise, which then makes an environment already set up for him to fail, especially when the media gets involved at any cost. (As we know they love a good villain) Com’n let’s face it, there won’t be another footballer like Suarez in the world for a long time, because he is in a league of his own, so why compare him to Balotelli? When Suarez has played upfront by himself for Liverpool had he been effective, No, not without Sturridge. When Suarez had his ban and it was Sturridge upfront by himself was he effect, Yes, because he won us games. You may not want to read this part but….. Suarez would never has scored as many goals upfront by himself and certainly not without Sturridge with him. So why such hasty criticism of balotelli upfront by himself when he doesn’t normally play as a lone striker at his previous clubs…? My biggest issue is the constant protective style of Rodgers over Lovren, who for me, and the whole defence, need serious coaching. For the life of me, with all these signings “Why we didn’t get a defensive coach???”.
Having a great attack wins you games, having a great defence wins you leagues. Let’s not use Balotelli as a scapegoat shall we, let’s work with the problems from the back. Bring in Kolo if you have to, at least he talks because some needs to inspire confidence in Lovren, Srktel AND Mignolet…
the only time i was really irritated by him yesterday was when he failed to pass to Sterling,other than that im struggling to remember anything else he did wrong. actually i can,he didnt score. i dont Sturridge coming back will change much. i dont expect him to run around like a maniac,big center forwards dont really do that,but i do expect him to find a way toscore and that doesnt seem likely.
Blame Balotelli !
For playing him alone up front when he flourishers in the 4-4-2
For liverpool struggling midfield
For the 60 million seeping defence
For our shaky 10 million dollar goal keeper.
For swapping a shirt after being asked for it.
Blame Balotelli for Liverpool folding at home.Scape goat of the empire, but when he is gone who do we
blame ? The cracks will still be there which Saurez covered over.
Fully agree, although in many ways the blame has to be more on Brendan than Mario, I do think he is genuinely trying and wants to do well. Why take the risk? Is Mourinho (hate to say it, possibly the best manager in the world), can’t deal with him, why does Brendan think he can? Its an outrage really that, Sturridge doesn’t have a song and Balo already has one, after doing fuck all so far!!
Ancelotti’s a far better manager than Mourinho.
Nonsense. An argument can be made that Ancelotti is very close to Mourinho, but there is no argument, looking at evidence, that can state he is “far better” than Mourinho.
Ancelotti has 5 more years in management than Mourinho yet the latter has achieved more.
Mourinho has 20 trophies.
Ancelotti has 16 trophies.
Out of the big 3 major trophies (league, main cup and champion league) Mourinho has 13.
Ancelotti has 8.
Mourinho has won the league 7 times. Twice in Portugal, twice in England, twice in Italy and once in Spain.
Ancelotti has won the league 3 times. Once in Italy, once in England and once in France.
Mourinho has won the champions league twice, each time with a different club. He has reached 8 semi finals in 10 years with 4 different clubs in 4 different countries. That is freakish.
Ancelotti has won the champions league thrice with two different clubs. He has reached 5 semi finals in 15 years with 3 different clubs in 2 countries.
Mourinho is the first man to reach the semi final of the champions league semis with 4 different clubs. All in a different country.
Mourinho has done the treble twice. Whisky nose said in 99 the treble would never be done again by any club in any country. Mourinho done in in Portugal and Italy.
Ancelotti has never done the treble.
Mourinho has done the double twice.
Ancelotti has done the double twice.
Mourinho hasn’t just done it with major clubs who had a lot of money to spend. He won the UEFA Cup and Champions League with Porto in back to back years on a shoe string budget.
On almost any scale you want to measure it, Mourinho is superior.
Yet Ancelotti walks into Jose’s dressing rooms and immediately improves them.
No fuss, no drama just trophies and good football.
1. Ancelotti didnt improve them massively. See points tally and finishing position in league, copa del rey & champions league for proof.
2. Ancelotti didnt have the greatest club team of all time to contend with, Nourinho did.
3. Ancelotti was starting from a much better squad & higher playing level than Mourinho had.
4. All this doesnt have much relevance when standing up to the previous 15/20 years of cold hard evidence I mentioned. 7 leagues vs 3 is probably the best example, closely followed by Mourinho achieving greatness at a club with little money like Porto.
As I said, Ancelotti is top class & close to Mourinho but saying he is far better has no basis in fact.
Rodgers -loves to blow his own horn when we win.
Rodgers-hangs players out to dry when loosing.
He needs to take a leaf out of shit coat and Lunchalotti’s book.
Brilliant article that just about catches the mood of every Liverpudlian I know or have spoken too. Mario balotelli is a contagious disease that ruins team morale and I think from the time his jet landed at Speke, then the squad morale instantly took a nose dive….get rid of the myth ( joey bartons words ) !!!
Happy Birthday mate!
I do agree with the points in this article. Well, there’s nothing I can say and back up to disagree.
I’m gutted with how it’s panned out so far. At the same time I think I’ve got a different interpretation.
Rodgers said today he’s been trying. He wouldn’t say that otherwise. I don’t class frustration as the same as laziness and stubbornness (my words not yours). He’s been asked to fulfil a role that he clearly can’t play. I don’t actually know what he is but I know what he isn’t. His movement was terrible last night. Not his lack of it but the positions he took up. He was constantly in the wrong place. What I find hard to shake is some flashes of brilliance. Not so keen on the numerous missed sitters. In some ways I understood his frustration. Bit controversial I know but I wondered if whether Sterling was intent on impressing Madrid. He had a fair few chances to pass and didn’t.
I think he’s tried. I think he’s knuckled down. I think he’s unfamiliar with the role and the system doesn’t suit him. I’m reserving judgement till I’ve seen him with more suitable players around him. I’m not that hopeful to be honest but I really want him to succeed. Shirt thing was uncalled for though but then so was Balotelli becoming the scapegoat.
We could try him at centre-half. At least we know he won’t wander off.
Eh lady! Been TAW stalking you for a bit now. You’re funny and insightful – like me!
These #corporatebuttkissers need more women. If you actually are a women and not a #corporatebuttkisser in disguise.
Happy birthday Ian
I am as disappointed as you and feel let down. Surely prospective players get introduced to the club and it’s history and values. After the ‘interview’ (can’t think of another description) that’s when the player signs…..did Mario pass the interview? Perhaps Loic Remy failed? The club don’t have to buy if the players aren’t right…….and surely his past records showed he was not reliable. Just because he scored against England didn’t make him a high performing option. Oh to the days when only 2 or 3 players were brought in…….
I’m torn. Like most people, I like Mario as a person, I like the notion of him as a maverick, outlandish striking phenomenon, and as someone who needs to be cherished and supported for all the rough stuff he’s had to endure by racist troglodytes. And yet, it seems pretty obvious that while he’s not entirely to blame for the current malaise, he’s not helping either. It’s not just goals, though some would be nice; it’s the stroppiness that is pushing all the wrong buttons. Suarez could berate Sturridge or Raheem but that was permissable because he ONLY cared about winning and within five minutes he’d score a sensational goal and everyone loved it. But when you’re low on confidence you can’t try and shift the blame – the responsibility – onto your team mates. You can see sterling and gerrard are going mental trying to play with him. Yes, he might be better as one of two strikers but tough, Daniel’s crocked, so knuckle down. The fear is that his very presence will actually divide the dressing room, create rancour, and generally create a few more problems at a time when we’ve already got plenty elsewhere on the pitch.
I understand your frustrations Ian, not only with Mario but with the 51 thing, hope the wine was good.
Taking Balotelli off at half time was good Feng Shui by BR. I’m sure BR will find the correct environment and location for Balotelli very soon. It could well be alongside Sturridge, but nobody can alter that at the moment, down the M62 to Hull is another possibility yes. For now let’s wait for circumstances to change, there’s a [very] plausible possibility of building a good run of Premiership results now, and we are 5th despite everything.
This article is so far off the mark its not even funny….
Balotelli was at least a threat, Real had to watch him, they marked him all first half.
The real problem was Gerrard,Johnson,Lovren…
Gerrard was no where, a complete passenger…but lets blame Balotelli.
You know how we improve our attack…make the hard choice. Start Can and Hendo. Drop Gerrard. Hendo is to good to be Gerrard’s water carrier anymore.
Start Sterling,Coutinho and Lallana right up with Balotelli. Give him the chance to drop off and knit play together, to be the focal point to link up , to free up space for runners. We never have anyone running off the ball….That not on Balotelli.
Drop Sktrel, give Kolo a try. Start Manquillo…Johnson is OK on the ball but disastrous as a Defender. Get Morene to bomb forward only when his needed and not all the time being caught up field.
In short be the manager Rodgers and sort it out.
that Balotelli….how dare he exchange jerseys? Liverpool defense can’t stop a league of grandmothers, how dare Balotelli….? Liverpool midfield can’t dominate a pre-school dance floor, how dare Balotelli….? Liverpool manager not knowing difference between left or right, how dare Balotelli….? Liverpool club spend loads of money on hyped division 3 players, how dare Balotelli…..? Balotelli is the cause of everything I tell you…..NOT!