Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti has stood up for fellow countryman Mario Balotelli, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that the striker is not to blame for all of Liverpool’s problems.
“There is a lot of talk about Balotelli, too much,” Ancelotti said. “He is a quality player who has joined a team which at the moment is missing an important player like Suarez, who scored so many goals.
“They need to look for another solution, find another style with new players. I do not believe that all of Liverpool’s problems in this moment are down to Balotelli, but he has to work to help the team come through this situation.”
Since moving to Liverpool last summer, the Italian striker has taken the brunt of blame for the Reds poor performances both domestically and in Europe. Scoring only twice in 13 competitions, once in the League Cup and once in the Champions League, has not endeared Balotelli to the fans but injuries to key players (Daniel Sturridge) as well as a leaky defense, an under-performing midfield and poor managerial tactics are deserved of equal blame.
Ancelotti also came to Balotelli’s defense in the shirt swapping incident with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half-time of Liverpool’s first match with the Spanish side. Fans and pundits were enraged but Ancelotti insists it wasn’t a big deal. “Swapping shirts at half-time with an opponent is something very normal,” he said. “If Marcelo tomorrow swaps shirts with a player, I will not take him off for that.”
That incident, as well as the incident this past weekend where Balotelli barely made the second half kick-off in time, are red herrings or non-events where people use Balotelli as a scapegoat for larger problems. Like, for example, resting six starters in a Champions League match.
Good on Ancelotti.