Having watched Liverpool’s Europa League match last night and Mario Balotelli’s controversial penalty. I have to say, I don’t see what all the fuss is all about.
In fact I’d go so far as to back the controversial Italian.
Captain Steven Gerrard called it “Disrespectful” and “Mischievous”. Jordan Henderson didn’t call it anything other than a bemused look of reluctance at the time. But let’s face it. What’s better for the team? I think Liverpool and Steven Gerrard need to avoid the “Jobsworth” scenario.
For those of you that don’t know this expression. Let me explain. A Jobsworth is an official who executes rules and instructions to the letter. Despite when they may be detrimental to the wider cause of effort. Now having got that out of the way, let’s see how this applies here. In seeing the incident unfold yesterday, I was surprised. Even more so when I learn that Brendan Rodgers had appointed Henderson as penalty taker. However, in fairness, I believe this was only valid because the Italy international didn’t start. Hendo (or Jobsworth), was still prepared to put the team’s place in the last 16 in jeopardy just because of “Orders”. Orders which weren’t even valid at the time anyway.
The fact is, Balotelli, throughout his career as a professional footballer has missed one competitive penalty out of the 29 he’s taken. Henderson on the other hand has taken… None! I’m not saying he hasn’t scored any. He hasn’t actually taken any. Not for Liverpool or Sunderland. Which manager in his right mind could over look that? Thus, how on earth could the captain on the night have any qualms about the situation.
From my perspective, Balotelli saved both Henderson’s and Liverpool’s blushes yesterday and if he continues to dispatch spot kicks like that, then he can continue his insubordinate ways if it means the team progresses. The fact is that, as I understand it, Balotelli is actually the second choice penalty taker for Liverpool anyway, so Henderson, seeing as the ex-Man City man was on the pitch should have stepped aside.
I hear Gerrard has attempted to restore order today by praising the Italian’s Penalty and I’m pleased about that. It’s clear a good nights’ kip has made him come to. He had a point, Henderson is the captain, but the bigger point is, he’s not a proven penalty taker. Leadership is about leading. That means acknowledging and using the attributes of those that follow you. Especially when those attributes are better than yours. The captains role as leader, is to recognise that.
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