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Brendan Rodgers is adamant Liverpool will avoid becoming “the Mario Balotelli Show”. But the reality is rather different, as the Anfield boss is discovering.
He seemed less than impressed when told about the number of young fans who stood on bins to peer over the walls at Melwood to watch the new £16million signing from AC Milan train.
“I don’t just think they were trying to see just him,” said the Irishman. “He’s a good player, a talented player, but he’s got a lot of work to do here.
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“We have got a number of top-class players here and the star of this team will always be the team, so I don’t think they were climbing on the bins just to see him.”
Rodgers has told Balotelli to behave and is busy trying to protect his guiding principle that the team is the star. He said: “This isn’t the Mario Balotelli Show, I’ll tell you that now. This will be about him being part of the team and performing like everyone else.”
After reading the endless headlines Balotelli generated in two-and a half years at Manchester City, Rodgers is *determined there will be no repeat at Liverpool.
Notes: Stats for last 3 seasons, supplied by Opta
The Italy striker prepares to make his debut at Tottenham tomorrow and Rodgers said: “It will be a different story here. Conditions are different at *Liverpool. You have to behave yourself in a certain way. Simple.
Rodgers wants Balotelli to *concentrate on his football and the club have already found him a new home on Merseyside to help him settle. He has been pleased with his performance in training and will decide today what part he will play at White Hart Lane.
“We have already got somewhere here for him, he’s sorted,” said Rodgers. “That’s key for us. He’s a Liverpool player, not a Manchester player, so he will be here.
“I have spoken at length to Mario since he has been here. He is definitely a mature boy. He is very, very bright.
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“He now feels that it is time to show the type of player he is. Everyone knows his quality and we have seen it this week in training.
“We have seen the sheer power and pace and the touch that he has. He wants to score goals and he wants to do it consistently. That is why we are making sure we focus on his football.”
Tottenham will be Rodgers’ 100th Liverpool game and he will be second only to Kenny Dalglish in terms of wins if the Reds are victorious.
Rodgers has 55 wins from 99 games, while Dalglish won 62 of his first 100 matches.
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“I didn’t know that,” he said. “If that’s what the stats say, then that’s nice. I’m very honoured to reach 100 games to be honest because I know at clubs this size, that sometimes does not happen.
“It has flown by. I feel it myself with the supporters and there’s a real sense of where the club is at. There’s a real pride in the club, on and off the field, in what we’re striving to achieve here.
“We’re now back in the Champions League and that was my whole aim when I first came in. I knew if we
got to there, we could build from there.”