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Man United end 131 years of English lineage

This was the week in which Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner got caught with his pants down, AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi rebuked his bouyant manager, the Spanish booed their own national anthem and Manchester United broke with 131 years of tradition.

Bendtner caught with his pants down - Friday, May 8

It wasn't a good week for Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner. First of all the Gunners were dumped out of the Champions League, then he was photographed stumbling out of a night club with his pants down and a fine for 'unacceptable behaviour' quickly followed.

But by Friday the Danish international had made a better job of convincing manager Arsene Wenger that he was innocent in the whole pantsgate affair than he had of persuading the wider public that his talents as a striker could make him "one of the best in the world".

Following a meeting with the 21-year-old, Wenger said: "I was angry when I saw the pictures but he has been set up.

"He was not drunk but somebody was waiting for him to leave the club and pulled his pants down from behind. Then they took a picture and posted it around the world. That's what he told me."

Raul won't leave dethroned Real - Saturday, May 9

Mauled and humiliated 6-2 by arch-rivals Barcelona at the Bernabeu last week, Real Madrid's dwindling hopes of retaining their Primera Division crown were all but extinguished after they slumped to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to Valencia on Saturday.

Manager Juande Ramos had demanded a reaction from his players following their 'el clasico' humbling but the only response the Real coach received was one of apathy. Ramos' reaction to the defeat was a bit more pro-active as he cancelled Monday's day-off and dragged the players back into training as punishment.

But Los Blancos' alarming slump and imminent dethroning still isn't enough to persuade 31-year-old striker Raul to take a final big pay day at Manchester City. Madrid's all-time record goalscorer confirmed that he had been contacted by the Premier League club but didn't consider a switch for "a single moment".

"It's true that there has been contact with my representative, Gines Carvajal, from Manchester City, but I've not considered it because I'm not going to leave here. I'm only thinking about finishing my career at Real Madrid," Raul said.

Fergie fields non-English XI - Sunday, May 10

Sir Alex Ferguson's team set a new standard in the Manchester derby, not because of the ease with which United brushed City aside, but because it was the first time in the club's 131-year history that the starting line-up did not contain a single Englishman.

With regular first-teamers Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick and Rio Ferdinand all rested it was left to Edwin Van der Sar (Holland); Patrice Evra (France), Johnny Evans (N.Ireland), Nemanja Vidic (Serbia), Rafael (Brazil); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal), Ryan Giggs (Wales), Darren Fletcher (Scotland), Park Ji-Sung (S.Korea); Dimitar Berbatov (Bulgaria) and Carlos Tevez (Argentina) to keep United's title push on track.

But United fans need not worry about the international make-up of the squad just yet as it would be equally possible for Ferguson to field an entire team of Englishman. A starting XI of Ben Foster; Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Richard Eckersley; Owen Hargreaves, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Lee Martin; Wayne Rooney and Danny Wellbeck would be more than match for most teams in the Premier League.

Gianluca Vialli's Chelsea were the first English team to start a match without a single Englishman on the pitch, on Boxing Day 1999. In February 2005, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal went one better and named a 16-man match day squad devoid of any Englishmen.

Berlusconi slaps down Ancelotti - Monday, May 11

Chelsea target Carlo Ancelotti may yet rue the day he nailed his colours to the Milan mast after the Italian club's owner, Silvio Berlusconi, said that he held the manager totally responsible for the club's failings this season.

The Italian's future was thrown into doubt as the Rossoneri struggled in Serie A and with Chelsea sniffing around for a new manager it looked like the 49-year-old would be heading to Stamford Bridge next term. But Milan have since recovered from a poor start to climb into second place in the league, seven points behind leaders Inter with three games to go, and a place in the Champions League is virtually assured.

Early on Monday, a newly confident Ancelotti looked set to snub any further approach from the Blues when he said: "I am AC Milan's manger and I will be doing this job for some time. The time has not yet come for me to be replaced at Milan - it's easier to win in Europe with Milan than with other clubs so I am staying here."

However, shortly afterwards Berlusconi showed a distinct lack of faith in his manager when he told La Repubblica: "We have got the tactics wrong many times. If we have lost the Scudetto then it is Ancelotti's fault.

"We have so many good dribblers and should have based our football on this asset, but we did the opposite."

With those words ringing in his ears Ancelotti may be on the phone to London at this very moment.

Redknapp imposes booze ban - Tuesday, May 12

In the wake of Ledley King's arrest for an alcohol fuelled alleged assault outside a Soho night club, Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp imposed a total booze ban on his players.

The saggy-faced Spurs manager said: "You shouldn't put diesel in a Ferrari. Footballers should not drink. I know it's hard but they are earning big money, they are role models to kids."

All very noble you may think, but didn't 'Arry's predecessor Juande Ramos already ban booze at the club? Back in January 2008, Gus Poyet, Juande's assistant manager, said: "Yes, there is a block on alcohol. Without alcohol, you perform much better."

So the question is: Who ended Juande's prohibition to enable Redknapp to implement his own alcohol embargo?

Meanwhile, ex-Spurs star and recovering alcoholic Paul Gascoigne hit out at the booze ban and said: "As long as he performs on a Saturday, so what? Let him have a few drinks."

'Royal March' jeered at King's Cup - Wednesday, May 13

Barcelona bagged the first trophy of a possible treble on Wednesday when they beat Athletic Bilbao 4-1 in the Copa del Rey final but the match will also be remembered for the passionate booing of the national anthem by large swathes of the crowd as the King of Spain looked on.

With a stadium full of regional nationalist Basques (Athletic) and Catalans (Barcia) the Marche Real was nearly drowned out by jeering fans, many of whom want independence from Spain, and resulted in some tough decisions for Spanish TV directors covering the match.

While TV3 (Catalan) and Muscat Televista (Basque) broadcast the scenes in the Mestalla - including the shocked faces of Keita and Daniel Alves and one Athletic fan with hand on heart in respect of the anthem - the state broadcaster TVE "missed it" because they switched to their cameras in Bilbao as the city was on standby for a big party if they won with giant TV screens at San Mames.

When TVE went back to the stadium the anthem was over but they repeated it at half-time with all the booing dubbed out. And that little trick, or "very serious error" as a TVE statement termed it, cost Sports Director Julián Reyes his job.

Slogan wanted for Australia 2018 bid - Thursday, May 14

As far as we can tell advertisers and designers get paid vast amounts of cash for doing very little and now the industry's boffins have found a way of doing even less for their cash by introducing 'crowdsourcing'.

Crowdsourcing basically means that you the public do their job for them. To highlight this process DesignBay are running a competition, via twitter, to try and find a tagline for Australia's bid for the 2018 World Cup.

Unfortunately the winning entry will not be used as the official slogan for the tournament but the winner will bag themselves $100. The real idea behind the scheme is to show that virtually cost free crowdsourcing can be just as effective as hiring an expensive PR firm.

If you think you can better offerings such as Our backyard's yours!, The beautiful game played in its natural surroundings and Kicking it Down Under then click here to submit your effort... and post it in our comments section of course.


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