The Liverpool boss says his recent change in approach is to make his team more aggressive, but hinted that the Italian does not suit that style and could be kept on the bench
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has hinted that Mario Balotelli does not fit into his new plan for the team, and says he would have to “get used” to sitting on the bench.
Balotelli has not started a match since November 8 but came off the bench in the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United on December 14, only to be banned for one game for an Instagram post which was adjudged to have contained racist and antisemitic overtones.
The Italian is now available to face Burnley on Boxing Day, but Rodgers has been happy with his recent switch in formation and, after admitting that his striker is not suited to the new style, looks set to stick with it.
“We’re at our best when our game is aggressive,” he told reporters of the 3-4-3 system. “So for us it was about trying to find the solution to get back that intensity and tempo to our game, which is critical in terms of how we work.
“That’s key, that real aggressive pressure at the top end of the field. The players are starting to adapt and performances will get better and better.”
The Northern Irishman, though, realises Balotelli may not be able to contribute: “We have seen it’s not really his game. Working with him for the period of time he’s been here we have seen that he’s probably someone who’s better in and around the box.
“That level of intensity and pressing isn’t part of his game. But you try to get the best out of the players you have and the qualities they have. So that’s something we will focus on. The most important thing is he is now available and adds another player to the squad.”
And Rodgers also said that the former Manchester City man, who is yet to score a Premier League goal for the Reds, would have to accept his back-up role.
“It’s something he would have to get used to,” he added. “If the team is going to need him from the bench then it’s something he would have to become adjusted to. It’s the same for every single player, not just him. When called upon, whether it’s to start a game or come off the bench, you ask your players to be ready.”