Who would have thought it, Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli blaming someone else for his shortcomings, but this time he may have a point and Brendan Rodgers ought to give him another chance against QPR.
When Balotelli finally signed on the dotted line at Anfield, making a mockery of Rodgers’ earlier insistence that the Italian categorically wouldn’t be arriving, more than a few eyebrows on Merseyside were hoisted.
Since then Rodgers’ gamble on the mercurial Italian has only rewarded him with a solitary goal against Ludogorets in the Champions League, leaving the Northern Irishman frustrated.
However, on the eve of Liverpool’s return to Premier League action at QPR, Balotelli has finally given into the urge to hit back at his manager’s tactics.
“I have never been a real, out-and-out striker – I have always been someone who goes around the pitch,” he said.
“If it was my choice, I would always go with two strikers. It’s the way I like to play, but Brendan asked me to play as the first striker.”
While it would be easy to seize upon this declaration as a lame excuse for his poor goal-scoring form, there could actually be a huge benefit to Liverpool if the comments don’t fall on deaf ears.
When Balotelli scored 17 goals for Manchester City back in 2011/12, he did so playing the majority of his football from a left-forward position under Roberto Mancini in a 4-3-3 set up.
Unsurprisingly, when Balotelli debuted at Tottenham in a Liverpool shirt as part of a front two with Daniel Sturridge he ended up drifting out to the left, where he did much of his most incisive work.
That performance, which drew significant praise from Rodgers at the time, offered a snapshot of what Balotelli is capable of despite passing up a few gilt-edged chances to score.
With Sturridge finally back in contention for the Loftus Road trip, Rodgers should seriously consider employing the same diamond again or even playing Balotelli off the left of a front three.
The Azzurri’s number nine is 11/8 to score within the 90 minutes in west London.
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