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Balotelli admits he’s struggling at Liverpool

Reuters, Friday 17 Oct 2014
Mario Balotelli
Mario Balotelli
Views: 765
Views: 765

Mario Balotelli admits he is struggling to adapt to Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers' tactics as he seeks to open his Premier League account for his new club.

The Italian has endured a difficult start to the season since joining from AC Milan, managing just one goal for Liverpool against Bulgarian side Ludogorets in the Champions League and being dropped from the national squad.

"If it was my choice, I would always go with two strikers, it's the way I like to play, but Brendan asked me to play as the first striker," Balotelli, who will attempt to break his duck against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday, said in an interview with Sport magazine.

"I understand that when the ball comes from wide on the left or right, I need to be in the box otherwise there might be no one there at all.

"I need to get in the box more. I don't do it enough, but it is something I am working to try to do more. I have never been a real, out-and-out striker – I have always been someone who goes around the pitch."

Despite his teething troubles at Liverpool, Balotelli is impressed with the club.

"I didn't really know much about the club before coming here, but I've been really surprised," Balotelli said.

"I knew they were a very good team, but I didn't know they were as good as they are. Of course, we need to improve many things because we have started off not very good, but I think the players here are amazing.

"I can see already that the Liverpool fans really like me, although I know that maybe they are a little upset because I don't score," added the 24-year-old who won the Premier League while at Manchester City.

"I know I have one goal in the Champions League but in the Premier League I have to start with one. After that I might set myself a target but I swear right now my first league goal is my first and only objective."

Prandelli Criticism

While not being happy with his role in team, Balotelli appears to be at peace with Rodgers, a welcome change after fall-outs with some previous managers including Jose Mourinho at Inter and former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli.

"He is very open, everybody can talk to him," he said. "I think he can help me improve as a player."

Balotelli is less complimentary about Prandelli.

After scoring against England in Italy's 2-1 win in the World Cup he received heavy criticism as Prandelli's side failed to reach the knockout stages.

"I think I had two, maybe three chances in all the tournament," Balotelli said. "Everyone knows I scored against England but I couldn't do much else.

"Even Cesare Prandelli has said bad stuff about me. Should he be going and talking to newspapers about me straight after a game? I did not expect that.

"I think real men, if they have something to say, say it to your face, I am a face-to-face person."

Liverpool's patchy start to the season has left them nine points behind leaders Chelsea, yet Balotelli believes they can still feature in the title race.

"I think we can finish in the top four, but I am focussed and want to work on us winning the league, not coming in the first four places," he said.

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