Mario Balotelli, as usual, is the name on every Liverpool fan’s lips at the moment.
The reason behind him being the talk of the town this time around is only slightly different for you see, the maverick Italian is being praised for the extremely positive impact that he has been having on the team. Last Tuesday, Balotelli scored a late winner to hand us a crucial victory over fellow Champions League hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur and yesterday, he came to the rescue once again after he slotted home an 84th minute penalty to hand the Reds a 1-0 win over Besiktas in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 32. While he may finally have found his shooting boots after almost seven months since moving to Anfield, controversy still sticks to him as if it’s his middle name.
This time around, the bit of controversy that everyone is losing their minds over is his, supposedly audacious act of taking the ball away from the designated penalty taker on the night, Jordan Henderson. When young Jordon Ibe was brought down in the penalty box by Ramon Motta, Henderson coolly walked over and took the ball, confirming to us his position as the designated penalty taker of the team. That was only the beginning of a tiff that broke out when Balotelli swaggered into the frame and calmly plucked the ball away from his Captain’s grip and thereby laying claim over the penalty. Henderson was reluctant to give the ball away, but ultimately it was the 24 year old Italian who went on to take the crucial penalty.
The result of the ensuing spot kick was quite obviously a goal after Mario sent the ‘keeper the wrong way with a stuttered run up, thereby giving his critics absolutely no ammunition to attack him with. Or at least that’s what he thought. Our number 45’s entry into the matter is quite obviously being made a big fuss of, but before I say anything else, I ask them this. Why on earth was Jordan Henderson the designated penalty taker when Balotelli was already on the pitch? I mean absolutely no disrespect to a player of Henderson’s calibre who has done enough to silence his critics, but what I mean to say is this. Between Henderson and Balotelli, there is one player who is better at taking spot kicks, and the answer to that question is of course, Mario Balotelli.
I would also say that I understand the fact that the Italian was not a part of the starting line-up and his introduction into the game was never certain, leading Rodgers to choose Henderson as our penalty man. But, couldn’t Rodgers have made it a point to mention that Balotelli would become the designated penalty taker if he were to be on the pitch? At the end of the day, I do not see any reason to fuss about this anymore, as in my humble opinion, Balotelli should have indeed been the player in charge of penalties and this whole episode could easily have been avoided had Rodgers trusted his 16 million pound signing with what he does best. Making a mountain out of a molehill is something that should be left to our rival fans or football pundits and as far as this matter is concerned for us Liverpool fans, there is absolutely nothing to do here but rejoice after the hard fought victory that we attained over a resilient Besiktas side because, at the end of the day, all’s well, that ends well.