Thursday 8 December 2016

Mario Balotelli: Brendan Rodgers contributed to my Anfield downfall

Published 27/08/2015 | 11:38

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and Mario Balotelli
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers and Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli claims manager Brendan Rodgers' tactics contributed to his woeful spell at Liverpool.

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The 25-year-old striker has returned to AC Milan on loan a year after leaving the San Siro in a last-minute £16million deal which Rodgers admitted at the time was a "calculated risk".

It failed spectacularly, with the Italy international scoring just four goals in 28 appearances and only one of those coming in the Premier League.

Balotelli was criticised for his attitude and lack of work-rate but he said Rodgers' tactics made it difficult for him.

"I must accept my faults but the formation chosen by Rodgers was not suited to my characteristics," he told Gazetta dello Sport.

"At the beginning I missed several easy chances, then I had fewer chances to score, a bit of bad luck, injuries. A mess of things."

Read more: 'Balotelli didn't even know Joe Allen was his team-mate' – More incredible tales from departed Reds striker

Balotelli quickly fell out of favour and after being left out of the pre-season tour Rodgers made it clear to him he no longer had a future at the club, forcing him to train away from the rest of the squad with other unwanted players Fabio Borini and Jose Enrique.

Numerous stories have subsequently emerged regarding the Italian's behaviour while on Merseyside but Balotelli insists he did little wrong.

"I never complained, I accepted the decisions of the manager and I always behaved like a professional," he added.

"The professional Mario didn't just land here in Milan, even at Liverpool my behaviour and lifestyle were normal.

"Over the last year there was never a problem with my private life.

"I may have put pictures from restaurants on Instagram but that does not mean I did not train, even though I was not playing."

Read more: 'I must have been drunk' – Jamie Carragher questions previous opinion of Mario Balotelli

Partly as a result of his colourful background at a number of clubs - his antics at Manchester City became the stuff of urban legend - it has been reported Milan have inserted a number of good behaviour clauses into his loan contract, including details about his haircut and general appearance.

Balotelli said he had no problem with the strict rules enforced by coach Sinisa Mihajlovic and felt he owed his new manager a debt of gratitude.

"I have been asked to tone down my look, to follow Milan's style, and I will follow that without trouble," he said.

"I have had this haircut for a long time, I won't take it too far.

"My problem has never been my quality but my character. There are always a lot of voices surrounding me, every aspect of me is amplified.

"Rightly so he wanted to look into my eyes, to understand whether I had the right motivation.

"[I told him] that I understood my errors, that if he gave me this chance I would not disappoint him, that I am a man and I no longer create problems, that I will accept all of his decisions.

"He looks at the man, not just the player. He showed himself by taking me back. I have a huge debt to repay him.

"I am restarting from zero. I know that I can't make any mistakes, I can't expect anything and I must win everything back.

"I am no longer a child and I have already thrown away too many chances."

Press Association

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