Finally on Target: Hope at Last for Mario Balotelli at Liverpool?
‘He’s just jogging on…no effort made to get on quickly’ – ‘not what the fans want to see…he’s scored and not celebrating at all’.
The above are two quotes from commentary during Liverpool’s recent triumph over top four rivals Tottenham in the Premier League, a game which notably saw Mario Balotelli grab his first league goal for the club.
The quotes are evidence enough that the media are, for the most part, united against Mario Balotelli; and many would say with good reason. However, when was the last time you saw a player do anything but jog onto the pitch, and more to the point, when did you last see Mario Balotelli celebrate a goal.
That’s not to say I think that now everybody should be singing the Italians praises – nobody should take that long to score a goal. I do however believe that perhaps it’s time to welcome him back in from the cold.
After all, it was the first time has featured in the squad since his cameo appearance from the bench against Chelsea in the League Cup – and for somebody who bases his celebration on a postman; he more than delivered on this occasion. Liverpool had led, and lost it, led and lost it once more; but when Balotelli converted from close range it felt like the tie was well and truly settled.
But what does it mean for Liverpool and Balotelli?
Having remained at Melwood during the January transfer window, many questioned how Rodgers planned to involve him, especially seeing as he had been left out entirely for a few games in recent weeks. Reclaiming his place on the bench on this occasion even felt like he was simply standing in for the exhausted Raheem Sterling.
Nevertheless, now that he bagged his first goal, many believe it could put the wind back in his sails, and rejuvenate his Liverpool career.
That is if Rodgers is willing to give him the chance. And there’s no guaranteeing that Rodgers will increase his game time. With youngsters Raheem Sterling and more recently Jordan Ibe coming into the fray, it would appear harder than ever to break into Liverpool’s first XI.
But at least Balotelli has finally given Rodgers something to think about, and he’s given the rest of us something to dream about: Sturridge and an on form Balotelli could one day prove to be a formidable partnership.