Steven Gerrard provided a lesson for Mario Balotelli in how to swap shirts with an opponent without upsetting your club’s supporters amid extreme criticism of the Italian’s supposedly disrespectful exchange with Pepe.
Balotelli and Pepe swapped shirts on their way off the pitch at half-time during Real Madrid’s comfortable Champions League victory at Anfield, something that has created quite the furore on Merseyside.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has indicated the Balotelli will be disciplined by the club for his actions, while the Liverpool Echo have urged the player to apologise to fans for ‘embarrassing’ them with his ‘disgraceful’ behaviour.
The club’s captain, meanwhile, gave a tutorial in how to avoid such ire when he was asked for his shirt at the end of the encounter.
Alvaro Arbeloa, a former Liverpool player, started to remove his top to swap with Gerrard, only for the midfielder to urge him to wait until they were away from the gaze of the Anfield crowd.
It was a sensible move from Gerrard after Liverpool had been trounced 3-0 by Real Madrid, and their Champions League ambitions are hanging by a thread after only three matches back in the competition.
Cristiano Ronaldo, somewhat inevitably, opened the scoring for Madrid with his 70th goal in the Champions League, before Karim Benzema found the next twice to extinguish Liverpool’s hopes before 45 minutes had even been played.