Bruce wary of 'scapegoat' Balotelli

October 24th, 2014

The Italy international has come in for heavy criticism in recent weeks, having netted just once since completing his move from AC Milan, but the Tigers boss is remaining vigilant


Steve Bruce has warned his injury-hit Hull City squad to beware of under-fire Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli at Anfield on Saturday.

Balotelli, who joined Liverpool from Milan in August for €20 million, has come in for criticism for his below-par performances for Brendan Rodgers’ men and has netted just once in 10 games in all competitions since completing his move.

The Italy international striker’s decision to swap shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half-time during Wednesday’s Champions League tie has attracted further unwanted attention, with reports suggesting that Balotelli could be sold in January.

However, Bruce knows that his defence will need to be at their best in order to prevent Balotelli from answering his critics in style this weekend.

“It was a bit unfair on the lad [Balotelli],” Bruce said.

“There’s always one who people pick on. I thought he did okay in the [Real] game. A lot’s been made of changing shirts but it’s nothing new.

“The fella is a good player. If you play for Liverpool, you’re a good player. We’ll have to be wary of him.

“He’s the whipping boy at the moment – there’s always a scapegoat and he seems to be the one at the moment.”

Hull’s task of achieving a first away win over Liverpool has been made more difficult by injuries to midfielder Tom Huddlestone and defender Andy Robertson, both of whom could miss the Anfield clash along with Nikica Jelavic, Michael Dawson and Steve Harper, who are all unavailable.

“Tom Huddlestone and Andy Robertson are a concern,” Bruce added.

“It’s typical. We’ve been riding along nicely and all of a sudden we’ve got four or five [injuries].

“It’s inevitable. We simply have to cope with it and hope the squad’s big enough and strong enough.”

Aguero: I miss having Balotelli at Manchester City

October 24th, 2014

The Argentine insists the under-fire Liverpool striker was loved by everyone at the Etihad Stadium and reveals no one else knew about the ‘Why Always Me?’ t-shirt stunt


Sergio Aguero admits he still misses having former team-mate and under-fire Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli at Manchester City.

Balotelli spent two of his three years at City alongside Aguero, with the pair famously combining for the last-minute goal against QPR that sealed the club’s first Premier League title win in dramatic fashion in May 2012.

Since then the fortunes of the two men have gone in contrasting directions. Balotelli departed City and then AC Milan in acrimonious circumstances and has been criticised for failing to fire for Liverpool since his €20 million move to Anfield in August.

Aguero, meanwhile, added a second Premier League winners’ medal to his collection in 2013-14 and is currently level with Chelsea striker Diego Costa at the top of the scoring charts this season, having netted four against Tottenham on Sunday.

Yet despite all this, the Argentina international insists his former team-mate was loved by everyone at City and his absence remains felt at the club.

“I still miss Mario Balotelli being at City,” Aguero reveals in his new autobiography, ‘Born to rise: My story’, serialised by the Daily Mirror. ”Even though he used to drive us all nuts.

“We all knew Mario was a little crazy. The thing was, Mario was crazy when he wanted to be. He’d do daft things whenever he felt like it because he thought he could.

“We’d go out on the training pitch and he’d kick the balls away in different directions just to be silly, or he’d throw cheese over people when he was sat in the dining room.

“I couldn’t help but wind him up, calling him silly names and toying with him. But he knew it was because I loved Mario – everyone loved him.”

Aguero also revealed that the rest of the City squad were kept in the dark about Balotelli’s now infamous ‘Why always me?’ t-shirt celebration during City’s 6-1 mauling of Manchester United at Old Trafford in October 2011.

“Nobody knew he had that t-shirt on when we played United at Old Trafford – he must have hidden it beneath a vest,” the Argentine insisted. ”If we’d known we’d have told him to take it off.

“But later when I looked at the ‘Why Always Me?’ message on the front, I told him that if he was calmer and didn’t do so many things, it probably wouldn’t always be him.”

Coutinho vows to improve after Liverpool's shaky start

October 24th, 2014

The Reds have endured a shaky start to the 2014-15 Premier League season but the Brazil international is keen to kick-start his side’s season by improving his own performances


Philippe Coutinho is determined to step up his performances in a bid to kick-start Liverpool’s lacklustre season.

Despite currently sitting fifth in the Premier League standings, Brendan Rodgers’ side have made a shaky start to 2014-15, with the fluid football of last term having gone missing.

A host of new players arrived at Anfield in the wake of Luis Suarez’s departure to Barcelona in the close-season, including misfiring forward Mario Balotelli, but playmaker Coutinho has put the onus on himself to create more goal-scoring opportunities.

“We haven’t had a good start to the current season. We all acknowledge the team are not currently in our best form,” he told the club’s official website.

“Each striker has their own style and training sessions help me understand how they prefer the ball to reach them. In my position, it’s important that I create clear opportunities for them.

“I have to adapt my style to all strikers – as does any player who is in charge of playing in the No.10 role. We have to create open chances regardless of who the strikers are.”

After making a flying start to his Liverpool career upon his arrival from Inter in January 2013, Coutinho struggled to have the same impact last term.

But the diminutive midfielder has improved this season, notching a crucial goal in last weekend’s scrappy victory over QPR before providing a bright spark during the midweek Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

However, the 22-year-old, who has retained his place in Brazil’s squad for their November internationals, admits that his performances are irrelevant if the Reds are not winning.

“Football is a team game and everyone has their own responsibilities. My role encompasses creating goal-scoring opportunities and scoring goals myself,” he continued.

“It’s difficult to say anything on a personal level when you lose the game, no individual performance really matters when the team doesn’t win.

“The most important thing for me is that the team deliver and win games. We want to be performing well again soon and we must keep working hard to achieve that.”

Balotelli fighting for his Liverpool future

October 24th, 2014

The striker has failed to impress since joining for €20 million in the summer and Brendan Rodgers has admitted he will re-assess the situation during the January transfer window

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Mario Balotelli is fighting for his Liverpool career just three months after arriving Anfield.

The controversial striker was the subject of a scathing attack from club legends Jamie Carragher and Graeme Souness on Wednesday after he opted to swap shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half-time during Liverpool’s 3-0 Champions League humbling.

Despite a slow start for the Reds – Balotelli has managed just one goal in 10 appearances – he appeared to be a more reformed character off the pitch, but confirmation on Thursday that police are investigating alleged “threatening” behaviour towards a woman who was taking pictures of his Ferrari has thrown fresh doubts over the Italian’s future.

Manager Brendan Rodgers said he “didn’t want to go down the route” of directly discussing whether a sale as early as January was an option but it is clear the manager is already having second thoughts.

“We brought in the player to give him a chance, and give him every chance,” Rodgers said. “At this moment in time of course he hasn’t scored the goals we would like or want.

“We are having to give him that opportunity. At this moment in time, it’ll be working with the players that we have and he is one of them.

“It’s not just about improving him but improving all the players. And we will see come January what the team needs.”

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Balotelli facing police investigation over alleged threatening behaviour towards a woman

October 23rd, 2014

Greater Manchester Police have confirmed to Goal that an incident is being looked into after a member of the public was reportedly confronted by the striker for taking photographs


Mario Balotelli is being investigated for allegedly making verbal threats towards a woman, Greater Manchester Police have confirmed.

The Liverpool striker reportedly took offence to a woman taking photos of his Ferrari in Wythenshawe around 15.00GMT on Thursday.

Police confirmed to Goal that the matter is being looked into, but the attending officer is yet to submit a full statement.

Balotelli has a history of involvement with police and only last month was the subject of an investigation after suffering racial abuse on Twitter.

The former Manchester City striker recently returned to England after 18 months in Italy with AC Milan, moving to Anfield in a €20 million deal.

The Italy international has struggled for form upon his return to the Premier League, however, with his only goal for Liverpool so far coming in the Champions League against Ludogorets.

Balotelli was withdrawn at half-time of Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat to Real Madrid on Wednesday and caused a stir by swapping shirts with Pepe while heading off down the tunnel, with manager Brendan Rodgers later stating the striker must continue to battle for his place in the side if he is to be a success at Anfield.

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