Discussing the disconnect between Brendan Rodgers & Mario Balotelli 1

Quickly, because the internet is not short of Mario Balotelli-themed content…

Over the weekend, Brendan Rodgers was questioned over the Italian’s continued exclusion from the Liverpool side and responded by alluding to the forward’s lack of application in training:

“I am judging it every day in training - Mario is exactly the same as every other player, there is no special treatment for anyone.

Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert are working tirelessly in training and when they go on they have contributed and young Jordan Rossiter, on the bench today, has been brilliant in training and I have to judge it on that.

If you want to contribute you have to be at it every single day in training in order to be in the squad on matchday.”

(via BBC)

That’s a fairly standard Balotelli complaint and, up until now, it’s something which his previous managers have tolerated to varying degrees.

Rodgers also remarked upon the player’s unwillingness to be a cohesive part of the side’s pressing game and essentially said that unless that habit changes, Balotelli cannot be accommodated within the existing structure.

That’s all very logical and Rodgers is absolutely right: Liverpool’s success last season was built on goals and flair, but it was underpinned by a relentless off-the-ball work ethic and their ability to dispossess opponents at opportune, numerical mismatch-creating moments.

The pertinent question, though, is that at what point did anybody at Liverpool think that Mario Balotelli could be that kind of player?  He’s not an unknown quantity, his habits and traits are not a secret and from his time in England and Italy he is known as one of the most static forwards on the continent.

This is not an original topic and I don’t blame anyone for rolling their eyes, but Rodgers is presenting Balotelli’s reluctance to work as an unexpected downside - and, obviously, that’s just not the case.

This has always been very strange.  It was acknowledged at the time that this was a last-minute transfer and a reaction to a paucity of market options, but that doesn’t in itself explain why the assumption was made that this player - this notoriously stubborn, difficult to manage player - could ever be more than just a stylistically opposing secondary option.

Brendan: What were you expecting?

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