Has he been made into a scapegoat at Liverpool?

Mario Balotelli has had a far from ideal start to his Liverpool career.

He is still struggling to find his first Premier League goal after nine appearances for the club and has only two goals in total, one each in the Champions League and the League Cup – but scoring against Ludogorets isn’t exactly anything to boast about. The Reds are in need of goals all around really, but especially in the Premier League where they’ve only managed 14, one less than the amount they’ve conceded.

When Liverpool signed Balotelli, Brendan Rodgers tried to make sure that Mario wouldn’t mess around off the pitch during his time with the club by installing a behaviour clause in his contract. However, it’s his performances on the pitch that have raised the questions. Almost every press conference that Rodgers attends includes a question (or six) about Balotelli, exactly what he wouldn’t have wanted when he took the risk to sign the Italian international.

The question has to be asked, is the criticism that Balotelli is facing warranted?

Plenty of high-profile strikers go on goal droughts, Mario isn’t the first and he won’t be the last – he’s not even the only one at this very moment. But you’ve got to feel that no other striker off-form like Balotelli would raise as much interest in the press. There’s a case to be made that Fernando Torres got a fair amount of stick following his £50m move to Chelsea, but the majority of that abuse was from the supporters.

There is no doubting that the 24-year-old is attracts particular interest from the press and Balotelli must surely be somewhat used to it by now. Brendan Rodgers was aware of the baggage that Mario brings, and although he did try and cancel out the bad-boy off the pitch, the bad striker on the pitch has caused him more problems than he would have expected.

It’s been a disappointing start for Liverpool in the both the Premier and Champions Leagues. It mustn’t be forgotten that form is temporary, and that’s old adage applies to both the the team as a collective as well as individuals.

Liverpool’s form will eventually improve given the quality of players they have available, and likewise Balotelli will find his scoring touch again when he re-opens his Premier League account.

Of course Mario will have to improve his work-rate, as suggested here, if he is to find his first league goal for The Reds. There is every chance that once he does open his account, he could go on to score 10+ goals this season. He certainly has the ability, and he’s proven it before.


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