James Dutton looks at two lessons from Liverpool’s recent past for Mario Balotelli…
Mario Balotelli is at a crossroads. In fact, Mario Balotelli is always at a crossroads.
Every decision he makes, however crucial or anodyne, is analysed for its far-reaching consequences and wider meaning by somebody somewhere. Every pass, every run, every shot, every turn is scrutinised and pored over in minute detail like every dismissal suffered by Kevin Pietersen. The record-breaking batsman once famously said, “It’s tough being me in this dressing room”, and you imagine the Italian knows where he’s coming from.
This scrutiny reached new peaks at the weekend when he was patronised by commentators for working the channels and tracking back; like a schoolchild receiving a gold star for a sympathetically deficient piece of homework.
In reality it was a seven out of 10 performance for a footballer fully capable of nine and tens, but who has mostly hovered around the fours and fives since his £16m to Liverpool from AC Milan.
For Liverpool to be stuck in this position with a misfiring multi-million pound striker is nothing new. Andy Carroll will always pop into mind when the term “expensive flop” is bandied around Anfield, but for now Balotelli is neither of those things; £16m is not a lot of money in football anymore, and there is still time for him to rectify his career on Merseyside.
The two strikers of recent Anfield past whose difficult starts run most in parallel with Balotelli’s own are in fact Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane. Continue reading →
With a host of top clubs on high alert for a new frontman to lead the line, David Dodds looks at the 23 strikers making up the most sought-after shopping list in world football this summer…
This summer is going to be fun. After the failure of last year’s transfer window to deliver the gross manifestations of über-affluence we’ve now come to expect, plenty of clubs will be looking to splash out this summer. One thing this window looks likely to be defined by is the lucrative movement of blockbuster strikers to the titans of contemporary football. And, as always, cash-strapped teams will also be on the prowl for a new man up top.
So here’s a look at some of the men whose painfully-protracted transfer sagas are likely to dominate media narratives this summer: players whose exorbitant transfer fees we’ll either be laughing about or lauding this time next year; cheaper options whose progress is worth keeping an eye on; a crop of youngsters so good they’ll leave you questioning how the striker could have ever been declared dead; and just a jolly good chance to acknowledge the entertainment value of speculation. Whether such media pressure lifts them to the status of icons or causes their careers to crash and burn is another story all together. Continue reading →
2013 marks the tenth anniversary of the January Transfer Window, Freddie Mickshik looks at some of the transfers that have become part of football folklore…
It’s the start of 2013, which aside from futile resolutions and intense hangovers means the opening of the January transfer window, as it celebrates its 10th anniversary. This mid-season shopping window gives managers the chance to add to their squad and potentially find those extra few goals or tighten a shaky back four enough to secure a title or beat the drop. The shortness and timing of it, however, means the new year sees many a panic buy (Savio anyone? Thought not.)
The False Nine‘s Michael David looks at a formation that is as beguiling as it is controversial and pays homage to it for our appropriately-named website…
One day, approximately four years ago, this writer popped into a WH Smiths before a long train journey, to pick up the customary form of entertainment for such an occasion; ‘FourFourTwo’ magazine. Continue reading →