Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers ended last season being hailed as the best manager in the country for guiding his Liverpool team within touching distance of the Premier League title.
The Northern Irishman took Liverpool back into the Champions League for the first time in four years, thanks in no small part to the outstanding Luis Suarez.
Throw it forward a couple of months and a Suarez bite on Chiellini and a mega transfer for the Uruguayan to Barcelona and Rodgers is left with a gaping hole to fill.
How does he fill it? With Mario Balotelli.
At £16m many said it seemed a reasonable price for a player who on his day can be brilliant, as he demonstrated most notably at Euro 2012.
However, this is the man that Jose Mourinho described as ‘unmanageable’ after their time together at Inter.
This is the man who during his stint at Manchester City threw a dart at a youth team player, set fireworks off in his bathroom and had a training ground scrap with manager Roberto Mancini.
Rodgers acknowledged it was a gamble to sign the Italian. More than that, it was stupid.
Against Real Madrid we saw exactly why Balotelli does not fit in anywhere. His decision to swap shirts with Pepe at half time has rightly angered his manager and fans, but his performance on the pitch should anger them just as much.
Balotelli offers nothing. He is not a prolific goalscorer, he is not a target man and his work rate is non-existent. He is a burden on his teammates in that Liverpool side and Rodgers has to take the full blame for introducing that kind of player into a team that were flying high at the end of last season.
Replacing Suarez was always going to be difficult for Rodgers. However his arrogance to believe that he was the man who could get the best out of Balotelli is staggering. Rodgers believed his own hype from last season and thought Liverpool was the best ‘environment’ for the Italian to flourish.
No such environment exists.
Balotelli is trouble and as a player is not worth the hassle he brings. He doesn’t score enough goals and is about as far away from being a team player as you can get.
Rodgers is to blame. He has damaged that Liverpool squad with some mediocre summer signings, none more so than the troublesome Italian. In doing so he has tarnished his own flourishing reputation and left himself with the problem of having a player on his hands who is a virus in that team, but in all likelihood no other club will touch with a bargepole.
And rightly so.
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