With many of the first team regulars off on international duty, as they often do, Liverpool played a friendly behind closed doors to keep those who hadn't been called up fit and sharp. Set for last Friday, it saw Adam Lallana back in action and Liverpool leaving with a 1-0 victory thanks to a Fabio Borini goal, but both were overshadowed by rumours surrounding Mario Balotelli.
Never far from controversy, a series of pictures of the players standing around on the pitch and Twitter suggestions of an incident—anything from a 50-50 challenge to a kick to the head of a Wolves player—were quickly passed along in scandalised tones by some of the world's less reputable football-covering outlets of the print and digital variety. Mostly because what if?
Turns out, surprise surprise, that nothing happened, and suggestions that something might have came as a surprise to Wolves manager Kenny Jackett today when he was asked about the maybe might have could have story that briefly fizzed to life on Friday. But that doesn't mean that something might not have happened. Because things of all sorts can totally happen all the time.
"There were a few tackles in the game but nothing out of order," Jackett told the Birmingham Mail. "There was nothing we, or Brendan Rodgers or Colin Pascoe, were unhappy with or that the referee made anything of. I can't even remember a 50-50 between Balotelli and [George] Saville. I can't really think of an incident where him and Saville clashed if I'm being honest."
As for those pictures of players standing around looking mildly puzzled a little more than an hour into the match, the ones that supposedly showed that something may have just happened? Turns out that on this occasion at least, the something that had happened was that Mario Balotelli was asked if he wanted to come off after an hour as had been planned.
"Balotelli was substituted, but not after any particular tackle or incident," added the Wolves manager. "The guys seemed to be warming up for ages and the seemed to be saying [to Balotelli] 'give him another ten minutes.' That seemed to be the process. It was Colin Pascoe shouting to the player, who was happy to stay on."
So. Mario Balotelli didn't kick anyone. But he might have. Which if you ask the people who were pushing the story on Friday likely remains the important thing.
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