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Rodgers gets Balotelli in his corner

ESPN staff
September 1, 2014 « LIVE - Transfer deadline day | United line up Strootman raid in January »
Brendan Rodgers reveals his approach to taming Mario Balotelli

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers claims he overcome an early challenge to his authority from Mario Balotelli over the striker's role in defending corners.

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Rodgers wanted his new £16 million striker to help out at the back on set-pieces when Balotelli told him that was not something he did. When the Italian carried out the task in Sunday's 3-0 win against Tottenham, his manager claimed a minor but symbolic victory.

"He [Balotelli] said, 'I don't mark at corners,'" Rodgers said. "Ah, you do now. For the first time in his life, he marked at a corner. Treat him like an adult with responsibility..."

Balotelli cleared one corner against Spurs and went close with his head at the other end as he made a generally impressive, if unscoring, debut.

Italy have left out Balotelli, who had a difficult World Cup and has clashed with fans in his homeland, from their latest squad but Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes the striker could keep his side among the title contenders for the second year running and Rodgers maintains he has signed the right sort of character.

"Mario's a good guy, a good man," Rodgers said. "If you take away the circus that surrounds him, and the circus he probably invites himself sometimes, and control the background noise, and get him focused on his football, he's a good fella.

"He'll make mistakes but you saw him get his reward for a real good week's work. You can see he'll be a handful for defenders. He is at an age where he has got to show maturity."

Brendan Rodgers substituted Mario Balotelli against Spurs but is confident he can handle the striker © Getty Images
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