Rodgers admits Balotelli has to score more
Manager Brendan Rodgers has ended whatever honeymoon period new striker Mario Balotelli was enjoying at Anfield, telling him he needs to start scoring goals after finding the net just once in seven appearances for Liverpool.
The Italian has the chance to do that when revitalised West Brom visit Anfield tomorrow after an ineffective display in Liverpool's 1-0 defeat at Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday.
He badly needs the goals and Liverpool, who narrowly missed out on the Premier League title last season, badly need a victory after one win and two draws in their last three league games has seen them slide to 14th in the table.
Rodgers made no secret about where the key improvement was needed: the form of the 24-year-old, whose only goal since he moved from AC Milan for £16million at the start of the season was against Ludogorets in the Champions League two weeks ago.
"In terms of goals he needs to improve, it is as simple as that," said Rodgers. "Not just him but any striker is judged on goals and at this moment he hasn't hit the numbers he will have wanted.
"And over the whole team, that is the same. We need to return to the team that brought us success over the last 18 months.
"When confidence is low in a team, it can become more about the individual."
Balotelli was brought in fill the void left by the departing Luis Suarez, who scored 31 league goals last season, but has had to shoulder a greater responsibility because of the absence of the injured Daniel Sturridge who has missed the last six matches.
When Balotelli joined Liverpool in August, Rodgers conceded buying the former Manchester City player was "a calculated risk". He now says there were no available alternatives to replacing Suarez as deadline day approached.
"I always said it was about availability and affordability of players. Mario was the one right at the very end who was available for that. I said when he came in that it was a calculated risk and it's something I have to work on to try to make it work for the team."