Liverpool has swapped out one controversial striker for another, filling the offensive void left by Luis Suarez with the enigmatic Mario Balotelli. TSN Soccer Analyst Kristian Jack provides three things we learned from the Italian strikers move to Anfield. 1. Fenway Sports Group conducts its business away from the public eye. John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino leaned on Theo Epstein. As the Boston Red Sox moved from lovable losers to winners on the field, their dealings off the field were equally as professional. Of course, their budget helped, but a desire to keep all of their dealings in-house was not something the Fenway Sports Group wanted. It was something they demanded. Their pursuit of star shortstop Alex Rodriguez, then of the Texas Rangers, in 2003, made recently into a short film by ESPN, showed the lengths Epstein and his assistant Jed Hoyer went to try and land A-Rod. How they failed ultimately had nothing to do with their strategic pursuit. FSG have brought that method to Liverpool. This is no longer a club regularly linked with players for weeks before they sign them. Their business is done behind closed doors and the news only breaks when the transfer is a formality. The latest acquisition of Mario Balotelli highlights this attitude and also provides the exact reasons for such a strategy. Balotelli is arguably the most polarizing footballer on the planet. Any long, drawn-out pursuit of such a player can be mentally exhausting for any organization. Liverpool conducted their search the right way and the moment it became public no one could question whether the Reds should get the Italian, as it was already a done deal. 2. Liverpool continue to shop at a realistic level when pursuing players. They do not have the budget of Manchester City or the pull geographically of Chelsea or Arsenal. They cannot afford to sign genuine world class stars on some of the sports largest contracts. However, that doesnt mean Liverpool cannot attract good players. When they sold Fernando Torres to Chelsea they want shopping at the cheaper, Dutch Erevidisie, store and brought in Luis Suarez. With Suarez at Barcelona, Liverpool went on a search to find his replacement. They were linked with Edinson Cavani and Radamel Falcao but they were never realistically in their price range. Those are in the elite class of centre-forwards, a class Liverpool shouldnt waste their time looking at. Instead, Liverpool have landed on a player with incredible potential, a player who they could help graduate to such a class within the next couple of years. It represents great business for manager Brendan Rodgers and CEO Ian Ayre who get a player with experience at the top level but who has underperformed during his career so far. It sends a message to the other players in the squad that the club is serious about maintaining their current level as contenders for Champions League spots each season. Much like the Suarez signing, it is also an acquisition that can set them for years because if Rodgers gets the best out of Balotelli he could end up selling him for five times the price when he is at the peak of his career in two or three seasons. 3. Balotelli remains one of the most overrated players in the game. It will be said that three major clubs have now happily moved on from the Italian and he is only 24. While this is true, the move away from Manchester City was the real indictment on the strikers career. At Inter he left for the bright lights of England under Roberto Mancini with a substantial pay packet, while at Milan it was clear the team was not good enough to have to put up with the issues he brings. Many of the issues off the field have been reported regularly but Balotellis biggest issue of all is the type of player he is on the field. At Manchester City he was incapable of adapting to different roles. He sulked when being taken off, was a liability when asked to play in any other position than up top and wasnt mentally strong enough to wait for his chance. The sport can humble players very quickly but the position he plays requires tremendous patience and maturity as you might only get one chance to win a game. Balotellis ineffectiveness in this area is not down to immaturity. He is three years younger than Lionel Messi and, at 24, is far from the kid many refer to him as. Such negative aspects of his game meant he was no longer a fit in a very good side like City who had better players. It also meant he was no longer a fit in a very average side like Milan because his demands didnt match up with the talent around him. His demands have also not matched up with his own talent. He is built very much like a striker who can play up top on his own, but his overall attitude and tendency to drift out of games is one of the reasons he hasnt started as many Champions League games as he should have. He has an abysmal scoring record in that competition and that will need to change quickly for him to reach the next level. How he left his three previous teams was not all down to his own inefficiencies, however, each time the jury remained out on what type of player he can become. He now goes to a club that will embrace him, a club that creates many goal scoring opportunities that will give him many situations in which to succeed. Balotellis time is now: A time that will allow the jury of public opinion to sit back and see if he develops. How and when he ultimately ends up leaving Liverpool will tell us exactly what type of player he has become. 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Both sides of the deal have formally announced acquisitions: TFC introduced Jozy Altidore as a designated player on Friday, while their counterparts announced a three-and-a-half-year deal with Jermain Defoe.Momentum is a word that is really overused in rugby but Bristol certainly have it going into the first leg game against Doncaster. After their performances against Bedford where they won 90-35 on aggregate over the two play-off games, it would seem that they have the edge going into this game.They have a few players back from injury, they are a balanced side and have been waiting for this from the first game of the season. We have seen Bristol come close in the last two seasons only to fall at the last hurdle - if they dont do it this year then I dont think they will ever be able to do it. Doncaster are not going to take a backward step, though. You have to give credit to the club for what they have achieved. On a limited budget, Clive Griffith has put together a great squad who could take them into the Premiership.They came into this season with the aim of not getting relegated. They found some form and went on a fantastic run and then found themselves in the play-offs. Now they are in the final and could be the team that deny Bristol once again.I think it will be a close game - if Bristol can come away with a five-point win then that will give them a great buffer for the return leg at home - if Doncaster win then Bristol will really start to sweat ahead of next Wednesdays return leg.I think this will be a real forward battle and have picked out some key battles that will decide the outcome.Props: Colin Quigley v Jack OConnellQuigley is a gnarly old prop who will have a real tussle with Bristols OConnell in the front row. Quigley has spent some time in France and good tight-heads are worth their weight in gold. If he gets it right against OConnell then that will put Doncaster on the front foot.Flankers: Latu Makaafi v Jack Lam Latu Makaafi on the charge for Doncaster Knights A mouth-watering collision from these two back-rowers. Doncaster have a lovely balanced back-row with Makaafi, Michael Hills and Alex Shaw - they have played a lot together aand have started all the play-off games.dddddddddddd How they deal with the massive Bristol pack - who are bring a huge carrying game - is going to be crucial.Fly-half: Dec Cusack v Callum Sheedy Callum Sheedy nails a conversion for Bristol It has been interesting to see how Sheedy has matured over the season and how he handles the pressure of this game. I dont think he will be asked to do anything dramatic for Bristol - play for the forwards and play the ball back inside. I think Cusack wont be averse to putting the ball high in the air - Doncaster have a good chasing game and he will also kick for the corners.Centre: Will Hurrell v Ben Mosses Will Hurrell of Doncaster Knights Hurrell has played for Leicester and for Rotherham, he is built like the proverbial outhouse who will look to smash down the Doncaster defence, but will be up against Mosses. That inside channel next to the fly-half is going to be crucial.Wings: Tyson Lewis v Tom Varndell Tom Varndell of Bristol runs in for a try If the ball does go wide then Lewis is as fleet of foot as I have ever seen. He will be up against Tom Varndell who is no slouch in the pace department either. Two very quick lads.Watch Doncaster v Bristol, Wed, 7.30pm, Sky Sports 2 HD. Watch on NOW TV for £6.99. No contract. Also See: Sky live: Doncaster v Bristol The PRO12 semi-finals on Sky Follow @SkySportsRugby Fixtures and results China NFL Jerseys Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys NFL Jerseys Cheap Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap Basketball Jerseys Online Stitched Hockey Jerseys Wholesale Baseball Jerseys Football Jerseys Outlet College Jerseys For Sale Cheap MLB Jerseys Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys For Sale Wholesale NFL Jerseys ' ' '
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