English Premiership

It's not all about you Mario!

2014-08-30 09:00
Mario Balotelli (AFP)

London - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists he won't build his team around Mario Balotelli as the maverick Italy striker prepares to make his return to the Premier League at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

Balotelli is in contention to make his Liverpool debut at White Hart Lane following his £16 million move from AC Milan earlier this week.

The 24-year-old has already impressed his new team-mates in training and his potent combination of power and poise make him an intriguing addition as Rodgers looks to reinvigorate his forward line following Luis Suarez's move to Barcelona.

But, while Rodgers trusted Suarez enough to make him the focal point of Liverpool's attack, he doesn't plan to let the gifted but psychologically fragile Balotelli carry the same burden.

Instead, he wants the former Manchester City star, who quit England in January 2013 after a series of training ground rows and off-field controversies, to complement the predatory instincts of England striker Daniel Sturridge.

Asked how much responsibility Balotelli has to compensate for the loss of Suarez, who was Liverpool's top scorer with 31 goals last season, Rodgers said: "No more than the rest of the team. He is a member of the team.

"This is not the Mario Balotelli show. He is a good player, a talented player. But he has got a lot of work to do here.

"We have a number of top-class players and the star of this team will always be the team.

"We are looking to bring him in and he can play with Daniel Sturridge, he can play up there on his own or play off the side.

"He is moving to Merseyside. He is engrossing himself into the club and the people, but more importantly into his football.

"I look forward to seeing that development over the coming years."

- Stern examination -

Liverpool have made an uncertain start to the post-Suarez era, narrowly beating Southampton before losing 3-1 at Manchester City on Monday, and they will face a stern examination of their title credentials against in-form Tottenham.

In the circumstances, Balotelli's arrival could be a perfectly-timed fillip for Rodgers' team, who are also boosted by the return from a knee injury of Adam Lallana, with the England midfielder set to make his delayed debut following his 25 million switch from Southampton.

But Tottenham could easily ruin the Liverpool new-boys' maiden appearances on the evidence of their strong start to the season.

Under the leadership of new manager Mauricio Pochettino, the north London side have reeled off four successive wins in all competitions to climb to the top of the Premier League and advance to the group stages of the Europa League.

Especially impressive was their 4-0 demolition of Queen's Park Rangers last weekend and Pochettino sees no reason to fear Liverpool even with Balotelli and Lallana in the mix.

"For England, for our football, it is important that star players come here," Pochettino said.

"Mario Balotelli is an unbelievable player and he has very good skill.

"And, okay, it is important for football and for Liverpool, not for us."

Tottenham's players could be forgiven for wanting a little revenge over Liverpool having lost 4-0 at Anfield after a 5-0 humiliation at White Hart Lane last term.

But Pochettino is keen to keep his squad's emotions in check and ensure they focus instead on implementing his game-plan.

"The past is the past. I don't want to remember the past," Pochettino said.

"It is a new season and I think we have a different style, different philosophy.

"Our philosophy is play football along the grass, make good combinations, work hard and, at the moment, the players are happy."


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Swansea City v Manchester City, Liberty Stadium 21:45
Newcastle United v Everton, St. James' Park 21:45
Southampton v Leicester City, St. Mary's Stadium 21:45
Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion, Anfield 22:00
West Ham United v Arsenal, London Stadium 22:00
Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth, Old Trafford 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Brighton & Hove Albion, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Saturday, 16 December 2017
Leicester City v Crystal Palace, King Power Stadium 14:30
Stoke City v West Ham United, Bet365 Stadium 17:00
Arsenal v Newcastle United, Emirates Stadium 17:00
Chelsea v Southampton, Stamford Bridge 17:00
Brighton & Hove Albion v Burnley, The American Express Community Stadium 17:00
Watford v Huddersfield Town, Vicarage Road Stadium 17:00
Manchester City v Tottenham Hotspur, Etihad Stadium 19:30
Sunday, 17 December 2017
West Bromwich Albion v Manchester United, The Hawthorns 16:15
AFC Bournemouth v Liverpool, Vitality Stadium 18:30
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will claim the Premier League title at the end of the 2017/18 season?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.