Why Brendan Rodgers must be pleased he signed Mario Balotelli for Liverpool

Balotelli is masking wider failings at Liverpool early this season.

Two months after signing on transfer deadline day, Mario Balotelli is still searching for his first Premier League goal.

It's a far from satisfactory situation, but pinning the blame on him for Liverpool's return of only 14 points from 10 games, is a red herring.

He is predictably taking plenty of flak from all comers, and for Brendan Rodgers there is at least one positive in this.

The Italian's performances are taking heat off a number of his own decisions, and failings in terms of getting the team to click.

After losing Luis Suarez this summer, and Daniel Sturridge to injury, there were always going to be challenges, but suggesting Rodgers has addressed them well would be hiding the truth.

Liverpool's defence ranges from barely adequate to appalling, with £20 million signing Dejan Lovren making no improvement, and himself looking shaky.

Signings like Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic, at a combined £45 million, have also failed to improve the team's attack, while a reluctance to use Rickie Lambert tells a story in itself.

Perhaps most worrying is the regression of Steven Gerrard, who is not exerting the same influence as he did last season, and this is arguably the most troublesome of the bunch.

Finishing in the top four is going to be every bit as challenging as in previous seasons, and while the issues can be solved, at present they are big issues, which are getting shouted out by the fuss over Mario Balotelli.

The more time Brendan Rodgers has to spend in press conferences discussing Balotelli, is less in which he has to defend himself, and for this reason at least, he may be relieved he signed the striker.

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch