Brendan Rodgers will try to corner Mario Balotelli's fiery instinct
Brendan Rodgers said yesterday that he would conquer Mario Balotelli's more unpredictable instincts by giving him responsibility – starting with the job of picking up an opponent to mark at defensive corners for the first time in his life.
The Liverpool manager, whose team beat Tottenham 3-0 at White Hart Lane, was incredulous that Balotelli had never before been asked to mark at defensive corners before this week.
He said that in preparation for set-pieces, he had insisted that the Italian did so and believed that by giving more responsibility to Balotelli, the player would respond.
Rodgers said: "Mario's a good guy, a good man. If you take away the circus that surrounds him, and the circus he invites on himself sometimes, and control the background noise and get him focused on football, he's a good guy.
"He'll make mistakes, but I think you saw him get his reward for a real good week's work with the team. He was fully focused on football: working, pressing, disappointed not to score, but you can see he'll be a handful for defenders.
"He is now at an age where he has got to show maturity. I am giving him responsibility. For the first time in his life, he marked at a corner. Seriously! An international player who has won three titles in Italy, cups, the Champions League.
"We were doing corners (in training) and I said to him, 'I'm putting you on (a man) at corners. He said: 'I don't mark at corners.' I said: 'You do now!'"
Liverpool's goals were scored by Raheem Sterling, Steven Gerrard from the penalty spot and left-back Alberto Moreno.
Gerrard's penalty meant that he has now broken Jan Molby's club record, with 43. Rodgers said that before the game Balotelli had enquired as to whether he could take penalties.
"He (Balotelli) has got a great record," Rodgers said. "He asked me who was on the penalties. He's scored 26 and only missed one. So he had every right to be asking.
"But Steven Gerrard is the penalty taker I nominated when I came in. So there will be no argument."