The second season is about to start for Liverpool’s Italian, Mario Balotelli. I have a few things to say about his future and his place at the club.
First of all, I still rate Mario highly. Yes, I agree that he didn’t do as well as fans or the club and manager had hoped we’d see – but it was his debut season. It’s fair to say that in the last season he “underachieved”, that he did not live up to the (admittedly rather high) expectations that our club and fans have for all players. But we can’t just judge him on this alone and then cast him aside as “not worth having in the starting 11” or worse (you want to sell him etc).
I am a “Liverpool supporter” – these words have meaning for me. It includes determination to keep on supporting players (and managers) even when they may not have been as successful as we wanted for the club. In this case, I will put my support behind Mario Balotelli. I continue supporting him as a Liverpool player even when others have “written him off” and simply want to see other players replacing him and playing in his position until the point where he becomes so frustrated with not being played any more that he decides to leave the club as soon as he can. This is both unfair to the player and to the fans who still believe in him.
When Mario Balotelli joined the club, it was shortly after Luis Suarez had left for Barcelona. In fact it was generally considered that the club made the transfer because they desperately needed a “REPLACEMENT FOR SUAREZ”. The extremely high expectations for Balotelli were that he should come directly into the Liverpool team and do what Suarez had been doing – scoring 30 goals per season.
Mario obviously didn’t achieve that, but I know there are signs that Balotelli has the potential to still turn out to be the star player we had all hoped he would be.
First of all – Luis Suarez was not always a 30 goals per season player at Liverpool. We now herald him as the player who achieved that eventually but he was not doing it from day 1 at the club. In his first season, Luis Suarez scored 4 goals. FOUR goals. I didn’t miss any numbers out there, he genuinely scored less than 5 goals in his debut season.
Do you know how many goals Balotelli has scored in his debut season? 4! FOUR GOALS. The exact same amount that Suarez scored when first joining the club also. It’s called a “slow start” and any player can experience this kind of “under achievement” when they are only just getting to know the club and attempting to fit properly into the team.
Nothing is instant – very few players ever come directly into a new side and just start scoring 30 goals a season. It takes time to fit into a new squad, to start working at the peak of effectiveness with your other team members where you’re scoring in almost every game you play in. Not everything is down to the striker who is supposed to be scoring the goals, the people who are behind him are supposed to be providing the assisted balls and support for that to be able to happen. 1 player alone cannot bring everything that is desired for a club to be successful. It takes an entire team. I refuse to solely blame just Mario if you think he should have been scoring far more goals than he did. All players in the team had a responsibility to provide assistance to Balotelli which he may not have received fully at times.
The extremely high expectations of fans may possibly have been what led to their ultimate great disappointment with this player.
You disappointed yourselves, more than Mario disappointed you.
If they had set their expectations for him at “I hope he scores as many as Suarez did in his first season” – they would not have been disappointed, as he would have met the expectations. Now that he’s coming into his second season, we could raise the bar a little bit and set expectations for Mario at “I hope he scores as many as Suarez scored in his second season”. For the record, Suarez also did not score 30 goals in his second season at Liverpool, either. He made 39 appearances and scored 17 goals in the 2011-2012 season. Could Balotelli now score 18 or more goals, to have done “better than Suarez” by the end of this season? It’s possible! This is football, anything can happen. I’d like to officially show the positivity and optimism that answers that question as “YES, HE CAN”. Laugh if you want, but I am not joking and I believe he can score 18 goals this season if given a chance and proper support from the rest of his team. I’d love to hear from other fans who also believe he can do this, too. You’re welcome to comment your opinion here, Anfield Family. We’d welcome your input and feedback.
I am showing my support and belief in Balotelli. Perhaps he hasn’t really earned being called “Super Mario” just yet. He’s not been playing well enough to be labelled as “Super” – that’s reserved for only the best performances and extremely consistent players. Sure, he’s underachieved – but the expectations we all had for him were always far too high, as we’ve discussed.
In addition to the great expectations set for him, there were other factors that affected how well Balotelli could have performed. Daniel Sturridge was injured and missed a large part of last season and effectively cancelled out any possibility of a partnership forming between the two. When Luis Suarez was scoring 30 goals a season, he had Daniel Sturridge alongside him for most fixtures. Sturridge even scored 21 goals himself as Suarez got his record breaking 31 goals in the 2013-2014 season. It was clear that Balotelli needed Sturridge alongside him if he was to recreate any kind of previous partnership that had been happening at the club and serious longterm injury simply put a stop to that happening unfortunately. If we were or are in the future to see the best possible results from Balotelli, he needs either Daniel Sturridge or if he is not available, someone else who could provide equal or better (as Sturridge) assistance to Mario. A real partnership will need to be created.
WHY ALWAYS MARIO? He’s an easy target to pick on for sure and has expressed that himself, publically. I refuse to be a part of that circle who continue to trash-talk and use Balotelli as a scapegoat when things don’t go as well as you’d hoped for the club. It’s not all his fault.
I won’t join the people who want to pour the blame onto him for any lack of success for Liverpool that may occur. It’s too easy to just point at Mario and say “you should have done better”. That’s not fair, he has tried hard and done as well as he could have, given the many limitations that were part of his football at the club. I believe there will be less limitations in the coming season. I believe things can only get better (you can’t really tell me you expect things to be worse after speaking so harshly about him already) and that we have yet more to see from this player.
New motivations for Mario now may include “fighting for his place in the side”. With new players in the strikers position arriving ready for the new season, there will be competition like never before experienced. As previously mentioned, the biggest and best player that played in the same position as Balotelli (during his time at the club) was Daniel Sturridge. If the manager was going to play a formation that like 4-5-1 and have a sole striker, there would have had to have been a choice made about who was the best striker available and then choose them to play in the most offensive part of the formation. However, Sturridge did get injured and there was never going to be any more major competition for Balotelli, regarding his place in the side. He got to play regularly without any question of whether he’d make the starting 11 – up until the manager decided he wasn’t good enough and tried using players like Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini to see if they could have more succeess than Mario. They didn’t, in my opinion.
That’s going to change now. Sturridge seems to be on the road to recovery after seeing medical specialists in America who have been helping him get ready for being able to play regularly again and we have made new signings such as Danny Ings and even Divock Origi who will now be likely to get chosen for the starting 11. Balotelli’s place is certainly not “guaranteed” any more.
If Balotelli wants to play regularly this season, he’ll have to impress the manager and the fans. If it turns out the manager clearly wants to start using the new transfers that were just brought in right away, it will leave Mario with a need to impress at the training ground, instead of in the club’s fixtures. Anything Balotelli can do to make sure he shows everyone that he is back and better than ever, will have to be done.
He deserves a chance to prove himself, at least. He shouldn’t just be left out of the side with no possibility of showing improvement.
I openly admit that I do know that Mario has some weaknesses – but he also has some strengths which the people who talk so negatively about him seem to leave out when they discuss his performance for the club. I’ve seen him at his best, he’s scored in competitive European fixtures, winning a Champions League game for Liverpool almost by himself. I cheered for him, I screamed his name as he scored. It was one of the few moments that we had all hoped to see happen, in every game. I believe we will see more of these moments and with a little faith and perhaps an example shown by the player himself once the season starts and the fixtures keep coming, you could believe it too.
There will be people who don’t agree with me about my belief and support in Balotelli. PROVE THEM WRONG, MARIO!
You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.