Even the most stone-hearted of his critics must have cracked a smirk when Mario Balotelli came off the bench to help inspire a Capital One Cup comeback win for the Reds.
Simply by directing a ball into the back of the net, the media’s favourite football villain suddenly surfed right over the tidal wave of condemnation which has come his way in recent weeks.
‘Mad Mario is Super Mario again, for at least a week, but should the Italian’s various pre-fixes to his name now include ‘Super Sub’ for the foreseeable future?
There’s a pretty rational school of thought that suggests it should. The one thing Balotelli has lacked since arriving on Merseyside is an identity within the team (which isn’t just the lazy striker who doesn’t pass when he should).
Having lamented Brendan Rodgers’ choice to play him as a lone target man, Balotelli finally found a role which suited him against Swansea.
It’s not to say that the Azzurri’s number nine couldn’t be reintegrated into the Liverpool team, especially when Daniel Sturridge is fit, following Balotelli’s brightest Reds performance yet in tandem with the England man on debut.
However, just for now it may not hurt Balotelli to pull on the cape marked with a capital S from off the bench and simultaneously deflect some of the spotlight’s glare surrounding every one of his performances away.
This would also have a positive effect on Rickie Lambert, who like his teammate has drawn criticism for his lack of goals, but recently the former Southampton man has shown his truer colours and deserves a league start as a result.
Liverpool travel to Newcastle next where they are priced as 10/11 shots to earn three points.
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