The Mario Balotelli Argument | A Bipolar View

The Mario Balotelli Argument | A Bipolar View

Now I’m not the biggest Mario Balotelli fangirl, you only have to listen to my debut on the AnfieldIndex podcast to know my sentiments on ‘Super Mario’ (by the way I’d never call him that). I couldn’t quite understand the mass hysteria around this signing from our fans. Yeah he’s a big name in the game and you can’t grumble at the fee we were about to pay for him but, in my opinion, he was limited in his ability and I’ve always believed he thinks he’s better than he actually is. It was probably unfair of me but I kept comparing Mario Balotelli to Luis Suarez but the only commonality between them was neither one of them were a shrinking violet.

Balotelli Argument

So the inevitable happened, Mario Balotelli became a Liverpool player and I had no choice but to accept it. I’ve always wanted every player to do well in a Liverpool shirt and Mario is no exception to that rule. I’m not one of those pig ignorant fans who would cut their nose to spite their face just for the sake of being proven right in a heated debate, nothing is bigger than the club and I’ll gladly take one for the team or twenty if Mario would be so kind as to oblige. As I said on the podcast: “prove me wrong Mario”.

Mario has featured in five games for the Reds in the Premier League and I find myself going all girl interrupted on him. I’m often listening to two very conflicting voices in my head that I can’t block out despite how hard I try. A full on heated debate with myself on the ability of Mario Balotelli and the services of the AnfieldIndex podcast panel are not required here. Allow me to present both sides of argument – I’m having a word with myself.

The optimistic voice gently whispers and champions Mario’s work ethic. There’s no denying Mario seems up for it he’s even been seen defending corners. The Italian has looked very much a team player for Liverpool aside from the Villa game but lets be honest the whole team was shocking, so you can’t place the blame solely on him. He looked sharp against Ludogorets after his goal even though it came on the 82nd minute. The shackles seemed to be off and I saw flashes of brilliance from Mario.

However the pessimist within me suggests that Mario Balotelli’s deep positioning is the very reason why he’s not scoring. He becomes static and anonymous in deep positions. He’s also quite clumsy; Mario is often guilty of losing the ball when making forward runs. The main reason why Balotelli was bought was to create a moment of magic but judging him from the games I’ve seen him play he’s very reliant on his team, if they’re quiet so is Mario and that simply isn’t good enough, we need a game changer a leader in attack not a sheep and coming to life in the last 12 minutes of a game and scoring his only goal against Ludogorets does not make Mario Balotelli a world beater, harsh but true.

The optimist within me pipes up yet again. Team spirit is essential in any sport and Liverpool FC thrives on this quality and I cannot fault Mario on this. He seems to be getting on well with his team mates, even Steven Gerrard has been posting pictures of Mario on his Instagram whilst players such Sterling and Sturridge seem to be besotted with his infectious character. Surly this off-field chemistry will be a recipe for success on the field?

The Mario Balotelli cynic is not so convinced. I’m sorry but we didn’t sign Balotelli to become a BFF (best friend forever) with Sturridge and Sterling. He was bought in to score goals and assist his teammates with chances. I don’t care for their selfies or their social lives. The chemistry must be apparent on the pitch and right now it is practically non-existent. Mario is struggling in his role as a lone striker in the absence of Sturridge. This is something he must come to terms with. As Sturridge is an injury prone player Mario must make forward runs and help his teammates out so they are able to play a ball to him. He’s not getting the service you say? I say he’s too deep and not only isolating himself but the midfield. I find that formations and style of play must be catered to him and as a result players must be dropped or forced to play a different role due to his limitations as a striker. Lets not forget, Mario was benched against West Brom.

The optimist attempts to salvage this debate with a last ditch attempt to defend Mario Balotelli and the levels of maturity he’s displayed since he’s come back to the Premier League. Going back to those horrific performances against Aston Villa game and West Ham, Villa and West Ham constantly targeted him, two teams who reverted to old skool tactics of kicking the lumps out him. Despite their best efforts to rile Mario and yes, the Hammers goalie Adrian was in on the action too. Mario walked away with a yellow card, I’m not going to lie I did hold my breath and gasp for a few moments it could have been a lot worse given his track record.

Right hold it right there, enough of all the hypothetical and optimistic nonsense- time for some Mario Balotelli home truths (The cynic within me is peeved off, pulling out all the stops or stats in this case). Mario Balotelli has played a part in 5 premier league matches; he’s had 334 minutes of playing time. He’s had 23 shots, not bad you say? Well, only 7 of those have been on target and he’s failed to test the keeper at any time. Mario Balotelli has attempted 9 shots inside the area and 14 outside. Shoot long range all you want, we have Gerrard who can do that and still test the keeper. Having said that his pass completion is at 74%, which is very respectable. On a bad day Suarez would average in the high sixties so I can’t grumble at that although, that is the last time I’ll compare the two. Now for the numbers that matter, he’s got picked up one yellow card and has failed to score in the Premier League, that’s right 0 goals in 334 minutes. Not to sound like a broken record but let’ not forget he was dropped against West Brom due to this factor.  The stats don’t lie.

However, there’s a long way to go and writing off Mario Balotelli would be unfair and a tad premature. He needs to deliver performances such as the Spurs game otherwise as things stand, its pretty much game, set and match to the pessimist.

by

Writer, fashionista, Editor, Podcaster with the #Liverbirds and host of the #NinaKauserShow on @AnfieldIndex.

http://theglamorousgame.wordpress.com

Comments

27 responses to “The Mario Balotelli Argument | A Bipolar View”

  1. Soccerisma says:

    Nice article but there are a few things Mario is not really at fault.

    1 – The fact that Liverpool play the ball into Balotelli rather than in the space behind him.

    To be fair, that was the case last season as well, players used to play the ball into Suarez more often than the space behind him. and then it was his insane talent to rip defenses apart on his own, take on two three defenders or wreck havoc without the ball creating space for Sterling & Sturridge to provide the final pass or just score himself.

    Also, Suarez did not have real pace but had that gifted intelligence, he used to create space by turning defenders with ease, his assist for Sterling (Southampton away) perfect example.

    Clearly, Liverpool have to change that with Mario. He is new in a system Alien to him and lost Sturridge’s support early on that was much needed for learning. Plus the Suarez comparisons will never help but that doesnt leave our mind either. Even Sturridge on his own is not as effective as he was with Suarez. Both Mario n Dan need each other atm. For now, Balo does hold the ball well and then normally passes back. At times does look for space for the shot but have defenders closing him.

    He has pace and players like Lallana, Coutinho, Sterling are more than capable of finding the killer through ball and should do that.

    There is another thing I have noticed in Balotelli’s position during crosses from the wings. Mario always stands behind the defender in the same line waiting for the cross and on few occasions mistimed the header/jump against Villa and against Everton.

    In contrast, someone like Costa always tend to stand away from the defenders and six yards box to be able to attack the ball. An example https://vine.co/v/OZgqFHuYpq2. Given that we make so many crosses without any end product, this should help.

  2. PeterC says:

    Balotelli’s basically shit. It’s really not much more complicated than that. He’s scored about 7 goals from open play last season. He’s lazy and ambles about. Overhyped load of crap.

  3. jose says:

    There have been plenty of players in the past who have initially struggled to score before going on to make a positive contribution to his team in the premier league. Crouch (and even suarez) spring to mind. I’ve seen enough from Mario to believe that once he settles in and adapts to our play style that he will go on to be a big player for us.

    • PeterC says:

      What is it that you’ve seen exactly? The ton of of misses against City? the anonymous appearances since? Not having a single touch in the penalty area throughout the entire 90 mins against Ludogorets?

      That the guy is an overrated, overpaid, overhyped, pile of poop.

    • David T says:

      But Crouch contributed in other ways even he wasn’t scoring. His hold up play and touch was excellent. Balotelli seems to spend most of the time running in the wrong direction or losing the ball.

  4. PeterC says:

    Topical article but Balotelli’s simply crap. It’s really no more complicated than that.

  5. Picard Charvet says:

    The guy just has no goalscorer’s instinct at all. He seems to stand around in the hope that the ball is going to somehow magically come to him so he can hoof it. Doesn’t seem to have any idea how to make clever runs or which part of the pitch to play in. With him in the team its like playing playing with 10 players. Throw in clumsy, can’t dribble, and constantly running into trouble and you have the perfect 2014 version of Michael Ricketts.

    Absolutely laughable that Dave Hedrick was hailing him as a world class footballing messiah when we signed him. The only thing world class about him is his myth.

  6. JohnE says:

    At the moment, you have to say that Danny Wellbeck is proving to be the better buy. Choked on my dinner as I said that, but it’s true…

  7. RedorDead says:

    Good article, amusingly written but with points well made.

    Never understood the hype surrounding Balotelli.

    If you look at his actual performances over 90 minutes for the teams that he’s played for, he’s anonymous in most games. Every 1 game in 10, he’ll hoof a 30 yarder into the top corner, strike a silly pose, and the YouTube supporters are creaming themselves again.

    He takes a good penalty, but that’s about it.

    • Dave says:

      You don’t know anything about football do you?

    • Kat says:

      He clearly knows more than you, as Balotelli HAS been anonymous as a striker in the games that’s played for us and hasn’t looked even remotely close to scoring. His record, particularly whilst at Milan, show that very few of his goals come from open play, with a lot coming from penalties. As Benitez would say, “Those are the facts.”

  8. Jimmy Corkhill says:

    The problem with Balotelli – and its a big problem – is that he doesn’t seem to know how to make intelligent runs. He’s very static, shows poor movement, and always seems to be ambling around in 2nd gear.

    Scroll down a bit to the Suarez training video where he scores a couple of goals: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2784279/Luis-Suarez-snapped-selfie-Saudi-Arabian-cab-driver.html

    Forget that its Suarez, those are simply the sort of intelligent runs made by a good striker. Balotelli would never a run like that. And neither he does he have the skill to simply shift the ball to his other foot and bend it beyond the keeper. He just wants everything a silver platter for him. The problem is that he’s been playing like that since he was 15. At 24 y/o is pretty screwed if he doesn’t know how to make runs that lose his marker, pull defenders out of position and create space for others.

    Well worth listening to the excellent 5Times Podcast (10 Oct edition) where they make some really good points about him (particularly Molby) and how his failure to make intelligent runs affects the midfield, stops the team from playing etc etc. He’s simply not a player that fits into the way we play. I can see him beyond sold within the next 2 years.

    http://www.5times.co/

    • David T says:

      Really good analysis of Balotelli in that 5Times podcast. Can’t say I disagree with it unfortunately :-/

  9. Caggie45 says:

    Balotelli = Andy Carroll Mk 2.

  10. D James says:

    He’s been absolute woeful as a striker. Seems to spend most of his time running back towards his own goal. The worrying thing is that he hasn’t showed even small signs of improving.

  11. David T says:

    Not sure who it was that sanctioned the Balotelli buy but from what Rodgers was saying in the press conference the other week, he was at the bottom of the shopping list. Rodgers can talk him up as much as he wants but he’s nothing like Suarez, nothing like Sturridge and seems to detract rather than add something to our attack.

    Once we get Sturridge back, I’d be tempted to push Sterling further forward and play him as a withdrawn striker. Still a bit green but he’s the closest thing we have to Suarez in terms of his running, ability on the ball and finishing. That allow Lallana to play in the No.10 role.

    It’s still a step down from last year but its certainly better than having Balotelli up top not doing much of anything.

  12. Huyton Red says:

    v QPR that was the most woeful and indept example of striker’s play I have ever seen. Balotelli doesn’t seem to have a clue where to position himself on the pitch, doesn’t know how to make runs, and his finishing is abysmal.

  13. James H says:

    Balotelli is one of the worst strikers I have ever seen. £80k p/w is a complete joke. And to add insult to injury he didn’t even celebrate any of the goals against QPR. Miserable self-absorbed fucker.

  14. James H says:

    Balotelli is one of the worst strikers I have ever seen. £80k p/w is a complete joke. And to add insult to injury he didn’t even celebrate any of the goals against QPR. Miserable self-absorbed f**ker.

  15. James H says:

    Interesting analysis by MOTD on Balotelli:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/29683553

    Jimmy Case has also described Balotelli as a “waste of space.” Rather unkind really as a space offers more goal threat 😀

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/brendan-rodgers-defends-mis-firing-mario-4466187

  16. Kate84 says:

    We are just complete mugs signing Balotelli. Teams must see us coming from a mile away and start rubbing their hands with glee!

    http://www1.skysports.com/watch/video/9529679/carra–mario-off-next-season

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Published by Anfield Index
Updated: 2014-10-27 07:33:53
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