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Adriano: I heard I was dead

This was the week in which Guti refused to play for Real Madrid, Adriano declared that reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated and Rafa Benitez claimed Sir Alex Ferguson was a Liverpool fan.

Bruce blasts 'unprofessional' Zaki - Friday, April 03

Amr Zaki's explosive start at Wigan Athletic had owner Dave Whelan comparing the Egypt striker to Alan Shearer, but following the forward's recent failure to return from international duty he was branded "disgraceful" by manager Steve Bruce.

Whilst compatriot Mido made it backon time to the JJB Stadium following last weekend's 1-1 draw with Zambia, Zaki went AWOL claiming he had been laid-up in Egypt with a hamstring injury, which amazingly coincided with the week of his 26th birthday.

It is the fourth time this season the on-loan El Zamalek striker has returned late from international duty and Bruce has had enough. "I can honestly say that in all my time in football I have never worked with someone as unprofessional," the Latics' boss blasted.

"Zaki's behaviour has shown total disrespect to the club who pays him a very good wage and equally as importantly, to the fans who sing his name from the stands. I think it's time for them to know the truth about the man."

It seems Zaki will not be earning a permanent move to the Premier League with Wigan but Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp is reportedly lining up a £5m bid. Newcastle are said to be interested too...

Guti refuses to for Real Madrid - Saturday, April 04

Real Madrid pretty-boy Guti took his ongoing spat with manager Juande Ramos to another level on Saturday when he refused to go on as substitute for the final five minutes of their 1-0 win in Málaga.

The Los Blancos' vice-captain had been dropped to the bench in recent weeks following a string of poor performances and his future at the club is in doubt after reacting angrily to instructions from physical trainer Jordi Garcia to put on his playing strip by saying: "I am not going to go out now."

Guti, who has seen off many a manager at the Santiago Bernabeu, is presumably of the opinion that if former chief Florentino Perez is re-elected Real president in the summer his old mentor, and overseer of the galactico era, will get rid of Ramos rather than himself.

But according to a poll by Spanish daily AS Guti is not as popular as he thinks he is. 73% of 20,000 voters would not be sad to see the midfielder, who has been at the Bernabeu since he was eight years old, transferred at the end of the season.

Guti has since denied he refused to take the pitch and claims he has been treated like he has "killed someone".

A star is born at Old Trafford - Sunday, April 05

The tall tale of Roy of the Rovers came to life at Old Trafford on Sunday as 17-year-old debutant Federico Macheda came off the bench to score a last-gasp goal for Manchester United to keep their title hopes alive and leave us journos desperately scrabbling around for information about the youngsters.

The Italian starlet was promoted to the match day squad after scoring a hat-trick for the reserves against Newcastle United's B-team and came on to score a sublime 93rd minute match winner in Sunday's 3-2 come from behind victory against Aston Villa.

After being swamped by celebrating team-mates the former Lazio trainee ran into the stands to hug his father, who worked three jobs in Rome to allow his son to follow his dream, and in his post match interview Macheda described it as the "best day of his life".

After receiving the man-of-the-match award from club captain Gary Neville the veteran defender was asked what he thought of Machena's amazing contribution. "I'm grateful" was all he could muster. What a way to burst the young lad's bubble.

Worryingly, for those of a certain age, Macheda's dad is just 34 years old.

Adriano: I heard I was dead - Monday, April 06

The whereabouts of troubled Brazilian striker Adriano were finally revealed on Monday when the Confederação Brasileira de Futebol released a statement insisting he was at home with his family to overcome a "delicate" personal situation.

The 27-year-old, who has a history of alcohol related problems, disappeared after he failed to catch a scheduled flight back to Inter Milan leading to speculation that the forward could have been arrested after a party or might even be dead.

The former Parma striker eventually came out of hiding to confirm reports of his death had been greatly exaggerated. "I heard that I was dead," Adriano said "But I am fine."

Adriano's issues with drink and depression have caused his Nerazzurri career to hit the skids but amid rumours the striker was about to retire from football his agent declared is lucrative client wanted to return to Italy. "Adriano will return to Italy next week," said Gilmar Rinaldi. It now appears he cannot have wanted to return that desperately as he "takes a break" from the game.

7,500 watch Toon training session - Tuesday, April 07

Following Newcastle United's 2-0 defeat to Chelsea on his managerial debut "Geordie Messiah" Alan Shearer decided to show his under-performing players just how it should be done in an open training session at St James' Park.

Remarkably a 7,500 strong Toon Army turned up to watch their hero score a couple of goals in a seven-a-side kick-around that harked back to the days when Kevin Keegan, the first Magpies' Messiah, used to allow fans to witness first-team training.

Sadly, the 38-year-old, along with Michael Owen, who partnered Shearer at St James Park before he retired, still looked like the best players on the pitch.

The idea behind the training session was to show how important the club was to the Newcastle population ahead of Saturday's crucial relegation six-pointer against Stoke City. "I said the boys 'where else would you get thousands of fans turning up to watch training when the team is third from bottom?'" Shearer said.

Rafa: "Scared" Fergie is a Liverpool fan - Wednesday, April 08

There is an old adage, and a song by LA rockers Great White, that goes: Once bitten, twice shy. And Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez would also do well to heed the advice to learn from one's mistakes.

After Benitez had baited Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson with January's infamous Rafa Rant © Liverpool failed to win for three games and slipped off the top of the table.

Having fought their way back into the title race and hit a rich vein of form you would think Benitez would be eager to avoid making the same error, but ahead of his team's Champions League clash with Chelsea he just couldn't help himself.

Responding to suggestions that whoever lost the European tie would be the biggest challenger for the Premier League title, because they will only have one competition to contend with, Rafa said: ''I think Sir Alex will be supporting Liverpool in this tie because he knows we are the bigger threat now.

"I think it maybe is that he is a little bit scared (of us).''

With his foot well and truly in his mouth Benitez could only watch as his previously rampant team were demolished 3-1 by Chelsea at Anfield, their joint-worst defeat in European competition, and effectively tumbled out of the Champions League.

Kaiser blasts worst ever Bayern - Thursday, April 09

As the impassioned fall-out from Bayern Munich's humiliating 4-0 Champions League defeat to Barcelona continued into Thursday morning club president Franz Beckenbauer won the award for the most withering put down.

Beckenbauer, one of the club's greatest ever players, could not believe what he was seeing as the Catalan club scored four goals in the first 45 minutes of the quarter-final first leg at the Camp Nou and did not hold back in his post-match criticism.

"What I saw in the first half was without a doubt the worst football Bayern have played in their entire history," the Kaiser blasted. "It was an exhibition. Almost a humiliation. Barcelona gave us a lesson in football."

The defeat in Spain was Bayern's second embarrassing result in the space of five days, after losing 5-1 to Bundesliga rivals VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday, and leaves the future of under-fire coach Jurgen Klinsmann in doubt.


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