When Super Mario arrived from Milan most were surprised, his signing seemed to come from out of nowhere and on the face of it he's not a Liverpool style player, but we needed another forward, desperately, he undoubtably has talent, he is a big name and he was only priced at sixteen million, I'm laughing at myself with "only sixteen million" but it's relative at the time clubs were reportedly offering us around thirteen million for Borini, a decent player, but not on the same planet talent wise as Balotelli. Almost immediately opinion was split, was he more trouble than he was worth? Was he really unmanageable? Would we be able to control him off the field? Would his sulking cause a problem for team spirit? We're countered with We can't lose at that price, It's his last chance he has no choice but to buckle down, look at the quality he provides, he's scored goals at every club despite the problems, and so on, the debate has raged ever since.
I'm still unsure myself, I think we need to give him more time. As yet he has not produced the goal scoring form I had hoped for, but his game is about far more than that and I believe we are starting to see his hold up and link play. I also think that when he returns from injury Sturridge will bring out the best in Balotelli, mostly by giving him the support he needs but also taking some of the pressure away allowing him to play. One thing I do know is that some of the criticism he is receiving is unfair.
The media, commentators etc are spouting the same old Balotelli statements, He's lazy, he's sulky, he doesn't listen, he can't or won't be coached, I've heard them all, time and again, every game from every commentator, in every paper, in every article online and all over social media, even from our own fans. In my opinion it's simply not true, for me he has not looked overly lazy he has worked, he has closed down he has been seen defending in open play and at corners, he's not perfect, he has been caught been slow getting back onside, his movement could be a bit better but that's not lazy it's just not being perfect. I haven't seen him in a sulk once, disappointed yes, but not sulking. Staff and the manager have said he is listening, he is staying back doing extra training, determined to fit in and you can see the evidence, the manager said he wanted him playing more centrally that's exactly what he got, he said he wanted him to defend corners, again exactly what he got, so yes he does listen and yes he can be coached. He has got faults, he's not perfect, he hasn't really got going scoring goals and has been guilty of poor decisions, perhaps trying to hard, taking on daft shots when better options were available. So my comment to the media is don't be lazy, watch the game and report or comment on what you see not the cliched responses we all knew we would get.
What about off the field I hear you ask, there are plenty of potential problems there. Problems or is that just what the media report again? Is it really a problem that a young man who has earned plenty of money spends large chunks of it on cars, or that a young fashion conscious man wears a hat that is a bit of a fail, who hasn't made a bad fashion choice, he wore a T-Shirt with a message in it that criticised the media for their treatment of him, really I couldn't care. He set a firework off in his house, not a great idea, but nobody died and anyway I'm sure I watched a TV programme where a young lad set one off in his own arse way stupider, he gave money to people in a pub and others in a petrol station, good I say, seems like a nice young man. I know he gave Mancini a slap but again there are loads of bust ups behind the scenes this one was just made the papers and both people said it wasn't as bad as reported. Daftness yes but not necessarily a problem we have had worse and so have every other club. Let's compare to some of the biggest names in the game Gazza did all of the above and worse even hitting his own wife. George Best literally drank himself to death, the great Bobby Moore ended up in a foreign jail, Eric Cantona was a fool who let his club down over and over again, Suarez did the same to Liverpool, the list goes on and on, again make your own mind up don't follow the media.
Another major criticism is that Mario doesn't score as many goals as you think if you take out the penalties he has scored at other clubs. This is undoubtedly true he possibly should score more goals but look at his whole game the contribution he can make to the team and make up your own mind. Balotelli is terrible according to the media whilst Wellbeck or Rooney or even Lambert are the golden boys who at times can't buy a goal. Plenty of players have relied on penalties to boost their scoring records including our own captain with all his goals apart from one last season coming from either penalties or free kicks, who cares, a goals a goal.
I guess what I'm saying is love him or hate him because of what you have seen and believe, make your own opinions, not because of what some lazy journalist or commentator has told you, I don't know yet, but I certainly hope all will be well and the goals will come.