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Danny Higginbotham has criticised Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli for swapping shirts with Real Madrid centre-back Pepe at half time of the two sides’ Champions League Group B clash at Anfield on Tuesday.
The former Manchester United and Stoke City defender claims that it was disgraceful of the Italy international striker, who showed no respect to his Reds teammates.
‘Mario Balotelli has been panned for shirt swapping with Real Madrid's Pepe at half-time of Liverpool's 3-0 Champions League defeat – and rightly so’, Higginbotham wrote in The Stoke Sentinel. ‘I thought it was a disgrace and showed total disrespect to his team-mates, his manager, his fans and his club.
'I don't care whether you are 3-0 up or 3-0 down, you don't do it because it shows your mind isn't focused on the game. Also, an opponent remains an opponent until the final whistle, not a moment before’.
Liverpool lost that game 3-0, conceding all three goals in the first half. Manager Brendan Rodgers has now assured the fans that the team will defend better.
‘It needs to be better, that's for sure - as a team, not just the defence and goalkeeper’, the Reds’ official website quotes him as saying. ‘As a team we need to be better. We all pride ourselves on clean sheets but we need to more competitive and aggressive in those moments as a team’.
Meanwhile, Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho has said that he is ready to take on more responsibilities.
‘I've always felt confident’, the Brazil international told the club’s official website. ’Football is a team game and everyone has their own responsibilities.
'My role encompasses creating goal-scoring opportunities and scoring goals myself. Many people may see it as a task of higher responsibility. However, I've always been ready and prepared for it’.