Welbeck shows the way for Balotelli
DANNY Welbeck has always been an honest player. Even when he was struggling to carve a niche for himself at Old Trafford, he never gave less than he should. Mario Balotelli could learn from that.
It was an interesting comparison to make in midweek when Welbeck and Balotelli had vastly different experiences of the Champions League.
Welbeck scored his first senior hat-trick and gave a display of finishing that was crisp, committed and instinctive. To be fair, this was at odds with what we have seen from him before.
His first goal was straight out of the Thierry Henry play book and I'm sure Arsene Wenger must be quietly delighted that he signed Welbeck on the last day of the transfer window.
I know Wenger, who was in Italy on deadline day, said at the time that he would not have signed Welbeck on a full deal if he had been in England.
Many read that as a sign that firstly, someone made a decision at Arsenal over the manager's head and secondly, that Wenger had the same kind of doubts about Welbeck that the rest of us had.
However, all managers would take every player on loan if they could. What better way to find out about him than to take him on approval?
So I'm not sure I'd pay much attention to the notion that Wenger didn't really want him, although it does look likely that someone wearing a suit at the Emirates signed a cheque without telling the Gaffer.
It has worked out well for Wenger, one way or the other and the hat-trick Welbeck scored is a classic sign of a happy, confident player who has the full backing of his manager and the players around him.
Welbeck may have felt that he never had that at Old Trafford. Sure, he got chances to shine and occasionally did, but he never got a run as the main striker and when van Gaal told him he was surplus to requirements, it must have come as a confirmation of what he thought already. He was never going to make it at Manchester United.
Some lads are like that. Some are just born to play and score goals, like Diego Costa or Luis Suarez, and it wouldn't matter what team you put them in. They put on any colour shirt and impress people immediately.
Others need to be encouraged and cajoled to get the best out of them and I suspect Welbeck is one of those.
We know Balotelli is like that but the only problem with him is that no matter how much is done for him, no matter how much people go out of their way to help, he can't find it in himself to give the kind of commitment required to be a professional footballer.
It is a terrible pity. Both Welbeck and Balotelli have all the equipment strikers need to flourish but it seems to be that only one of them wants to succeed and the other can't be bothered.
I watched Balotelli against Basel on Wednesday night and I thought he was terrible. He never really tried and as often as not, could be seen strolling around the pitch while at least some of his team- mates put in the work.
Contrast this Liverpool with Suarez's Liverpool. The Uruguayan set the tone for everything. He was the first to defend and the first to attack and set a tempo for the team which he maintained for as long as he was on the pitch.
Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers desperately need that kind of momentum for the plan to work and with Balotelli sauntering around the place, it can't work.
Some suggested that Balotelli was doing his best against Basel but I didn't see it. He chased down the odd defender but was his heart fully in it? I don't think so.
He was doing it because Rodgers told him to do it and not because he believed that it is the right thing to do, the best way for everyone on the football team to play.
After the game, Rodgers claimed that he was happy with his performance but I can't believe that for a second. In fact, I've never believed that Balotelli was Rodgers' signing in the first place.
Somehow, after spending a huge amount of money Rodgers has ended up with players who don't look as if they are adding anything to Liverpool's squad.
While Manchester United got bang for their buck and marquee names like Angel di Maria, Rodgers ended up with Balotelli.
There has been talk of a committee at Anfield which meets and decides who to buy and how to buy them.
They say that if you asked to a committee to design a horse, you would end up with a camel. Balotelli is good evidence to support that theory.
From what I've observed at Anfield, it would not surprise me if Rodgers was restricted in some way in his buying and selling.
John Henry stepped in and found a financial nightmare when he chased down the various contracts and clauses which had built up in Andield during the bad years and it would not be any shock if he decided at that point that he would be the final port of call for any big financial decisions.
It could explain why Liverpool seemed to be relentlessly committed to buying young player when it seems to me that they need the finished article, especially in the Champions League.
Manchester City are showing for all to see how hard it is to survive in the Champions League - and that's with a stellar cast of some of the best players in the world.
Manchester United took five or six seasons back in the 1990s before they were able to cope with the raised expectation and raised performance level needed.
Rodgers couldn't possibly hope to compete at any serious level in this season's Champions League without experienced men and he bought very few of them.
Ironically, Balotelli has more Champions League experience than most but not much of it is of any use to him or his new team.
It just goes to show how big a waste he has made of his talent. You only get one life.