"A desperate gamble? No, it's a calculated poker move" by Steve Baker - Misc Articles - The Liverpool Way Jump to content

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"A desperate gamble? No, it's a calculated poker move" by Steve Baker

'It's a gamble'. There, it's said now. Just as it has been said also by a million other writers, tweeters, ex-players, pundits sports phone in hosts and callers. Statement of the painfully obvious agreed. If buying any player has an element of risk then only the most starry eyed optimist could suggest signing Mario Balotelli is a lock.


The suggestion that the modest price tag for such a player of this talent makes this a shot to nothing misses the point: resale value is a secondary (though not unimportant) consideration which only comes into play if the real objective of delivering on the pitch for Liverpool fails. Given the aim is success on the pitch now rather than financial consolation later, Super Mario needs to live up to his billing to at least a significant degree for this purpose to be fulfilled.


There is little to be added to the countless contributions on the pros and cons of the man himself which can be summarised thus: by almost universal consent an amazing, potentially, world-class talent , a really good bloke but, well, a bit of a fruit loop capable of committing all manner of madness which may be entertaining to the outsider but less amusing when it involves shooting himself and your own team in the foot.


The sum of all the analysis is this: we cannot come close to knowing how this will work out other than to say it will fall somewhere on the spectrum between abject disaster and genius driven triumph.


What is worthy of further consideration is what this transfer says about the state of mind of the decision makers at Liverpool F.C. at this point in time. While every transfer window can be seen as important, the dealings of this summer are undoubtedly seminal given the conjunction of the return to Champions League football and the departure of Luis Suarez.


While for many, a policy of sensible acquisition should guide us to a realistic aim of consolidating our place in the top four, the signing of Balotelli signals a firm rejection of this self-limiting ordinance. The 'safe' move would have been to buy a player of solid virtue such as Wilfried Bony who would probably guarantee a reasonable goal return and consistent level of performance without the baggage associated with Balotelli.


The supposed wage issues with Bony could probably have been narrowed if his reported determination to join Liverpool was true and the club had pursued him with real intent. But for all his merits, even the most ardent admirer of Bony would struggle to say his talent and potential comes close to that of Balotelli which, if realised, could inspire a renewed challenge for the highest honours in this and future seasons.


The scenes of adulation greeting Balotelli at Melwood showed the supporters instinctively sensed these possibilities and are themselves energised in a way which would not be true of a perfectly respectable but more prosaic alternative.


So the move for Balotelli is Liverpool painting with the boldest of brushstrokes in opting for mercurial brilliance with all its risks and rewards. But this is not the all in move of the desperate gambler trying to defy the odds in a last desperate move to stay afloat but rather the calculated aggressive push of the poker player that knows he has manoeuvred so that he puts his money in the middle when he has the best of it.


Having spent the summer thus far building a solid foundation absent last year the signing of Balotelli is a gamble but one which is a coup de grace to end a summer of assiduous and calculated planning.


Steve Baker


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