Football: Balotelli not to blame for Liverpool slump, says Real Madrid coach Ancelotti

Newcastle United's Daryl Janmaat (left) challenges Liverpool's Mario Balotelli during their English Premier League football match at St James' Park in Newcastle, northern England on Nov 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Newcastle United's Daryl Janmaat (left) challenges Liverpool's Mario Balotelli during their English Premier League football match at St James' Park in Newcastle, northern England on Nov 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes the criticism of underfire Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli following their poor start to the season has been over the top. Balotelli is yet to score a Premier League goal for the Reds since making a £16 million (S$33 million) move from AC Milan in August and was widely lambasted for swapping shirts with Madrid defender Pepe with his side trailing 3-0 at half-time two weeks ago before being substituted at the break.

However, Ancelotti insisted Liverpool's problems were not solely down to his Italian compatriot and that he had no problems with his players swapping shirts at half-time.

"There is a lot of talk about Balotelli, maybe too much," said Ancelotti.

"He has quality, but he has come to a team going through a difficult time after losing some important players like (Luis) Suarez. The manager needs to find another solution, but it is the same with all the new players. I don't think all of Liverpool's problems are down to Balotelli.

"The exchanging of shirts at half-time is very common. If one of my players did it tomorrow I wouldn't take them off."