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Liverpool manager unhappy with Balotelli contribution

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has criticised Mario Balotelli's work rate and told him to step up his contribution.

Rodgers wants Balotelli to work harder. Credit: Reuters

Rodgers responded "No, not really no", when asked if he was satisfied with the 24-year-old's stint against the Turkish side, which lasted half an hour.

Rodgers said: "We need to ensure that whatever level of the game we are playing at we have everyone working as a team and once we got the penalty he stops working.

"So he needs to improve on that facet of his game to play in his position, rather than standing on the side of the football field."

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Liverpool boss Rodgers backs Balotelli over penalty

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has given his full backing to striker Mario Balotelli over the penalty furore which blew up in the 1-0 win over Besiktas in the Europa League.

Balotelli took the ball off Henderson to take Liverpool's late penalty. Credit: PA

Rodgers insists the Italy international was right to step in front of Jordan Henderson, captain on the night and designated pre-match taker, even if it looked unseemly at the time.

Injured captain Steven Gerrard, as a guest television pundit, called Balotelli "mischievous" and "disrespectful", but Rodgers said the 24-year-old - who has scored 27 out of 29 from the spot in his career - was following the long-established order agreed earlier in the season.

There has probably been a lot more of a drama been made out of it than it actually was. With the players who were initially on the pitch last night Jordan was our nominated taker.

But if Jordan and Steven and Mario are on the pitch at the same time we would normally have Steven and Mario as the penalty-takers.

History shows he (Balotelli) has scored nearly 30 penalties in big games so he is an outstanding penalty-taker, but none of them were on (at the start) so you have to nominate someone.

Jordan was happy enough to take it but he gave it to Mario.

– Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers

Video: Gerrard argues with Reid over Liverpool penalty

Steven Gerrard and Peter Reid disagreed over the incident which saw Mario Balotelli snatch the ball from stand-in Reds skipper Jordan Henderson to take a late penalty for Liverpool against Besiktas last night.

Working as a pundit for ITV, Liverpool captain Gerrard - who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury - accused Balotelli of "disrespecting" Henderson by demanding to take the spot kick.

Former Everton midfielder Reid defended Balotelli by claiming it was just "confidence, give us it, little bit of a ruck."

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Rodgers: Balotelli to stay and fight for Liverpool place

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers says Mario Balotelli will struggle to get into his side at the moment, but confirms the Italian striker will stay with the club.

Balotelli is yet to score in the league since joining from Milan in the summer, and has been left out of the matchday squad recently, but doesn't look set to leave in the January transfer window.

Mario Balotelli is a complex character. Credit: PA

"It's been a difficult period for Mario but he wants to fight for an opportunity here."

After Saturday's draw with Bolton, Rodgers confirmed that Balotelli has been absent as his style was not suited to Liverpool's tactics.

“We spent about an hour or so chatting. He understands where it is at. He knows what is required to get in the squad - the pressing and aggression - and if you can’t do that you are not going to be part of the team. We suffered in the first four months of the season and we can’t go back to that."

Mancini: Balotelli 'wasting everything' at Liverpool

Balotelli and Mancini had a love-hate relationship. Credit: PA

Former Man City manager Roberto Mancini believes Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is "wasting" his professional career.

The pair worked together during Mancini's first spell at Inter and again at Man City, before Mancini was dismissed and Balotelli moved to AC Milan.

The Italian striker failed to live up to Milan's expctations and was offloaded to Liverpool last summer, where things have gone from bad to worse both on and off the field.

Speaking to Corriere della Sera Mancini, currently enjoying a second spell in charge of Inter, said:

I have not heard from Mario since we worked together at Manchester City. He was still a kid when we were together at Inter. He would do anything I asked him and he also behaved well at City.

It has all gone downward a bit since he left City. I thought he would do well at Milan, but it didn’t happen.

Mario is at risk of following the same path as Adriano. I hope that he wakes up one morning and realises that he is wasting everything.

– Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini
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