Bruce defends Balotelli: He was Liverpool’s best player

The Italian missed a chance to earn three points late on in Liverpool's draw with Hull.

When a side struggles to find the net against a side it was expected to beat, inevitably critics round on a club's striker. Even more so when that individual is Liverpool's Mario Balotelli, a controversial figure wherever he has played.

Yes, Balotelli missed a big chance in the final minutes at Anfield as his side drew 0-0 with Stoke, and even though he struggled to offer much of a goal threat for Liverpool, the Italy international worked hard throughout and linked up reasonably well with his teammates at times.

It was enough for his opposing manager, Hull's Steve Bruce, to come out defending the 24-year-old as he spoke to media after the game.

"He’s not everyone’s cup of tea but he’s a character – a maverick," Bruce said. "And when you sign a maverick, you need to treat them like one and get the best out of them somehow.

“I saw him two months ago against Spurs and he was terrific. He ripped them to bits.

“And he’s going through a bit of a sticky patch right now. But he’s a talent – I thought he was Liverpool’s best player today."

Bruce even defended the Italian for his midweek showing against Real Madrid, where Balotelli received pages of bad press as a result of a difficult performance, not to mention the issue relating to his half time shirt swap with Pepe.

Balotelli didn't reappear for the second half against the La Liga champions but Bruce thought the striker was just being made the whipping boy for Liverpool's difficulties.

"I only saw the highlights the other night [against Real Madrid]," added Bruce. "But even then I thought he did okay.

"For me, he’s been the whipping-boy. Every club has them and he’s been the one.”

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