Reds boss: Give Mario more time
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted summer signing Mario Balotelli (pictured) will never match Luis Suarez's Anfield impact.
Rodgers backed the Italy striker to shrug off ''unfair'' criticism and end his six-game Premier League drought however, despite Balotelli missing another glorious chance in Sunday's 3-2 win at QPR.
The Liverpool boss said Balotelli's early Reds career has been blighted by comparisons with Uruguay forward Suarez, who completed a summer transfer to Barcelona.
The former Swansea manager bristled at suggestions Balotelli could have missed another sitter if Steven Caulker had not scored the decisive own goal.
''Wow, that's being very unfair: an open goal, from six yards?'' said Rodgers when quizzed if Balotelli would have converted the tap-in from Raheem Sterling's cross.'Well okay, that's harsh. It'll drop for the boy. 'The most important thing for me is his work, the guy's doing his best; he's working really hard.
''It's just not dropping for him at the moment, but I would have said he would have finished that, if young Steven Caulker had not turned it in.
''The criticism of him has been unfair, yes. And that's because he's probably seen as the direct replacement for Luis, and as I said before, Luis was irreplaceable and a real world-class talent.
''And that's not what's being asked of Mario. He's not going to be what Luis was.
''He's not going to be what Suarez was: he's a totally different type of player,'' said Rodgers.
''Luis played on the shoulder, we freed up the team for him for a couple of years to exploit his qualities.'Now we have to have a different dynamic and type of game."