Liverpool vs Hull: Mario Balotelli and team-mates told to 'accept criticism', says Brendan Rodgers

The Italian striker has come in for criticism

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The Independent Online

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has told under-fire striker Mario Balotelli and the rest of his side to accept recent criticism and move on.

While the Italy international has come in for the most negative attention after scoring just once in 10 matches and then swapping shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe at half-time of a 3-0 loss on Wednesday, the rest of the players are not without blame for a number of poor performances.

"It is something which if you do not score or when the team isn't playing well - whether the criticism is deserved or not - it is a part of the game and you have to accept it," said the Reds boss of the growing discontent with his striker and players in general.

"No-one likes it, however way it comes, but as an individual, team and manager you have to accept it."

While Rodgers continues to defend Balotelli he admits the 24-year-old has plenty of work to do to prove he is good enough to be at the club.

And the Reds boss believes it will be difficult for the forward to achieve if he cannot find a way to adapt his individuality into the team ethos.

"We have an image of a team here, of how we play and work and how we represent the club," he added.

"I like players that are different. I like individual personality in people with hair and coloured boots but as long as they don't see themselves as an individual that is what is important.

"They have to fit into the parameters of the team and if those players over the longer term don't it can be difficult for them to work here.

"But in terms of that he is genuinely working hard and doing his best at Liverpool.

"Longer term we will see how that works out for him but he is trying hard on the training field to improve his opportunities to score goals.

"As long as he is doing his best that is all I can ask as a coach: whether that best is going to be good enough that remains to be seen - but that is the same for every player not just Mario."

Balotelli was disciplined for the shirt incident and Rodgers has now drawn a line under the matter.

"Any action will be kept between ourselves," added the Reds boss.

"We just had a conversation about the culture in this country and in particular Liverpool and that is it, matter closed."

Balotelli was under the spotlight again on Thursday night when it was announced police are investigating reports he threatened a woman said to have taken photographs of his Ferrari vehicle.

The Liverpool striker is understood to have been visiting his mother's home in Manchester today when the alleged incident took place.

The woman called police at 3.05pm on Thursday afternoon to report the Italian had approached her in "a threatening way" after he noticed her taking the photographs shortly after he parked his car.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: "We are investigating a report of threatening behaviour following an incident in Pewsey Road, Wythenshawe.

"Officers will be speaking to all concerned in due course."

PA

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