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 →
James Dutton dissects Roberto Mancini’s tenure at Manchester City. Is it a sign of short-term reactionism, or long-term planning?
“The Club has failed to achieve any of its stated targets this year, with the exception of qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League. This, combined with an identified need to develop a holistic approach to all aspects of football at the Club, has meant that the decision has been taken to find a new manager for the 2013/14 season and beyond.”
After three-and-a-half years, during which he ended Manchester City’s barren 35 years without a trophy and ended their 44-year league title drought, Roberto Mancini has been relieved of his duties for a season of complete underachievement.
Since weekend reports leaked that his position was under threat, there has been little sympathy for the Italian lothario. Many commentators have cited a spiky personality that has estranged playing and backroom staff.
In their statement, the club admit as much. The use of the term ‘holistic’ has provoked a bemused reaction, but is entirely revealing of the long-term strategy that will define City as they approach the five-year anniversary of the Sheikh Mansour takeover. Continue reading →
As Mario Balotelli departs English football, James Dutton bids a fond arrivederci…
And so with barely a whimper he was gone. Mario Balotelli has departed these shores, seemingly, for the final time. He returns to the fashion capital Milan, this time to parade around in the red and black, not the black and blue, where his flamboyant hats will be accepted.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Manchester derby, False Nine editor, Andrew Belt, calls for one of the current Premier League champions’ stars to emerge from the shadows and take centre stage again…
You thought Mario Balotelli was the best striker at Euro 2012.
One Fernando was being touted for great things but Llorente was consigned to a watching brief as Spain slay all before them playing the much-lauded ‘false 9’ formation, in which the other Fernando, Torres, managed to bag three goals and restore some much-needed confidence. Continue reading →
False Nine editor James Dutton dissects another controversial weekend in the Barclay’s Premier League and its implications on the wider world…
Rio Ferdinand is conspicuous without the ‘One Game, One Community’ logo t-shirt
An issue that had lay dormant in English football since the mid-1980s has reared its ugly head in the last twelve months, causing the game’s governing body to seemingly lurch from one crisis to another. It just won’t go away. Continue reading →