Brendan Rodgers continued to defend Mario Balotelli after the striker once again failed to find the back of the net in the latest match against Newcastle United. Liverpool have had the upper hand over Newcastle in recent years and they have had some fantastic victories at St James’s Park. However, they were unable to prevent Alan Pardew’s men from getting three points for a second consecutive week to get them out of relegation trouble. Balotelli has been heavily criticised in recent weeks for his failure to score goals on a regular basis.
The 24-year-old was signed as a replacement for Luis Suarez, but this transfer was seen as a big gamble despite the figure of £ 16 million. Balotelli is yet to score in the Premier league despite having been involved in almost every match. His only goals for the club have come in the Champions League and the League Cup. Liverpool did not create much opportunities against Newcastle, but Rodgers said that he had no problem with Balotelli’s performance. It was more because of Balotelli not being given the ammunition to score. Newcastle put in a spirited performance and did not give Liverpool time on the ball.
“It’s not about Mario it’s about the team. We’ve lost a game today, we collectively lost as a team. We have to go back and analyse it and move on. The progress this season was always going to be a slow process because there were so many changes and we haven’t started as we would like but we will improve. It’s been difficult period. We can only continue to work hard. We’re disappointed. We had full control of the game but we didn’t create as much as we would like,” said Rodgers, whose team against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has backed summer signing Mario Balotelli to be a success at the club despite many critics reserving their judgement on the 24-year-old. The former Manchester City and AC Milan forward recently returned to the Premier League after 18 months in the Italian Serie A. He has been signed for a transfer fee of £ 16 million, which manager Brendan Rodgers has labelled it as a major gamble given the recent history of the player. Balotelli is known for causing a lot of headlines on and off the field with his antics, but Gerrard believes that the player has matured a lot in recent years.
Balotelli is yet to score for Liverpool in the two matches he has played. In the absence of Daniel Sturridge, the 24-year-old is expected to continue as the club’s first choice striker in the Champions League match against Ludogorets. Balotelli is one of the experienced players at international and European level. He is the first choice striker for the Italian national team before being left out of the team by new manager Antonio Conte due to poor form. Gerrard says that he is not concerned about the critics when it comes to Balotelli’s potential for success at Liverpool.
After having seen the player from a close, the Liverpool captain says that Balotelli has all the ingredients to be a success. “If people want to write stories about him and say that he is crazy or he is a nutter, let them. If we get the best out of him, we have got him. If people want to write stories about him and say that he is crazy or he is a nutter, let them, but he is one of us now. We have welcomed him into this club with open arms and we want to help him succeed. Everyone is hoping he is going to be a hit,” said Gerrard.
Melbourne Victory defender Adrian Leijer has claimed that the club are hoping to win the FFA Cup, which is being inaugurated this season. It is a trophy that will be similar to the English FA Cup. Melbourne Victory have been one of the top teams in the Australian A League. They have won the A-League twice in their history. After the introduction of this new cup competition, there is hope that they will be able to increase the trophy cabinet in the coming seasons. Leijer says that the club are in fact targeting the title in this first campaign.
Kevin Muscat has signed some important players for the club this season. This has contributed to their good run of form in the pre-season friendly matches. Ahead of the start of the new season in the second week of October, preparations are going on in good manner. After the final friendly match against Richmond, Muscat’s team will be taking on Bayswater City in the first round of the FFA Cup. This will be followed by the start of the Australian A-League with a home match against Western Sydney Wanderers.
“That’s an important game for us, we’re really looking forward to it. Pre-season traditionally in the A-League has been very long and pretty strenuous. Now we’ve got something to break it up. It’s an important competition for us. We’ve got high hopes. To be the first winners of the FFA Cup would be pretty special and that’s definitely our target. The goalkeeper that made the final save, Rani (Dowisha), he used to train with us. To see him pull that off was pretty special for us,” said the defender about the pre-season, FFA Cup, and the signings.
Melbourne Victory’s activity in the transfer market is not over yet and there could be at least two more signings.
Mario Balotelli is known for his rebellious style not only in the pitch but mostly outside of it. The Italian forward is famous for letting it all out in the playing grounds an example of this can be exemplified back when he used to play for Inter Milan and he threw his jersey on to the ground.
A number of other controversial moments arrived not only in Italy but in England as well as he used to play for Manchester City and some issues continued rising but according to Clarence Seedorf, Balotelli is improving as a man and as a player.
“All credit to Balotelli after the Fiorentina game as he played at both ends of the pitch for 90 minutes. He behaved well with the referee as well – and that shows growth. If he continues like this, we’ll all be very happy. I think Mario has shown big improvements in the last game, both as a man and a player.” Seedorf stated.
Clarence Seedorf is the head coach of Ac.Milan as he took over the role of the club since Allegri was sacked a few months ago and even though the Dutchman still seems to be struggling trying to pick up positive results in Serie A, Balotelli has revealed that his position in the club is not in jeopardy and his teammates aren’t nervous despite the disastrous season which they are going through.
“I have not read the newspapers, but it is not that because you lose one or two games it becomes a matter of discussing someone. We are not nervous and no one fights in the dressing room. The group is fantastic and has always been united.”
“Certainly there was regret at the exit from the Champions League and it is bad to not make it into Europe for next year, but rumors of quarrels are rubbish.” Balotelli revealed.
Former Liverpool player, Robbie Fowler says that Manchester United has lost their fear factor under the guidance of David Moyes and after facing defeats at their home stadium of Old Trafford against Everton, Newcastle United, Tottenham and West Bromwich, it should be no problem for his former club Liverpool to win.
Liverpool has to travel to Old Trafford in order to face off against Manchester United on March 16 but Robbie Fowler is confident that Liverpool will come out as the victorious side.
“A few teams have gone to Old Trafford and got results this season. It has lost that fear factor. United had it for a number of years. Teams went there knowing they would be on the back foot and almost expecting to lose. That’s not happening anymore. Now teams are actually pushing on looking to win there rather than sitting back, hoping to nick a point.” Fowler said.
The last time that Liverpool managed to claim a victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford was back in 2009 however Fowler insisted in saying that times have changed and this time around Liverpool should be the favorites on winning.
“It’s always a massive game but the difference this time is that Liverpool must be favorites. I can’t remember the last time a Liverpool team went to Old Trafford in that position. On paper it’s a game Liverpool should win. They’re in great form and I am quietly confident Liverpool can get a big result there’’.
“People talk about how far United have dropped but I also look at it from the other side, how far Liverpool have come’’. Fowler added
The outcome of Manchester United vs Liverpool will be crucial for both teams as the Premier League is nearing the finish line and any amount of points that either club is able to secure could be the difference between getting a Champions League spot or not.
The Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, was awarded with the man of the match award during his club’s match against Fulham as the English midfielder managed to score once and provided an assist for his teammate which helped Liverpool on securing the late victory for his team.
When the match concluded, Brendan Rodgers went on praising the performance of Gerrard and even considered him to be ‘’peerless’’.
“Steven is peerless in many aspects of football. His performance again was brilliant is pass for the first goal, that penetration he has that he’s shown all his life and then the composure at the end. It’s no coincidence, he studies the goalkeepers and what side they dive. The professionalism he’s showing at this stage of his career is still there’’.
“There’s no more ideal person than Steven Gerrard when you have a penalty in the last couple of minutes in games, he stuck it away brilliantly.” Rodgers said.
When Rodgers was asked if he is concerned about the recent dry run of goals that Luis Suarez is going through, the tactician stated that the Uruguayan forward remains being world-class and even though he hasn’t been scoring like some months ago, he still is influencing the match in other areas.
“Luis is a world-class player, but I’m building something here that isn’t reliant upon one player. Other players have scored goals when Luis wasn’t in the team, or Daniel wasn’t in the team. You don’t score the number of goals we do when you’re reliant upon one player’’. Rodgers added.
Gerrard recently labeled his team as ‘’Dark Horses’’ considering all the other teams fighting for the top spot of the Premier League that have enjoyed busy transfer windows while Liverpool on the other hand did not have a single player either leaving or joining the club on any permanent deals.