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Aug 21, 2009

Ryan Babel raps, Ronaldo gets free car

This was the week in which "sick rapper" Ryan Babel flipped his flow, Cristaino Ronaldo spent €240k on an executive box and blagged a free car, Franck Ribery said he never wanted to join Real Madrid in the first place and there were Rafa Benitez quit rumours abound.

Gunn fired six days into season - Friday, August 14th

It's not often we plumb the depths of League One football, but a special mention must go to hapless Norwich City manager Brian Gunn who was sacked on Friday, less than one week into the new season.

Having been walloped 7-1 at home by Colchester United in the opening game of the league campaign, the Canaries coach received public backing from the board, won his midweek Carling Cup tie at Yeovil 4-0 and must have thought he was all set to mastermind their promotion push after presiding over the club's relegation last term.

But Gunn, a legendary figure at Carrow Road from his days as a goalkeeper, was handed his P45 after just six days of the season with a record of won 1, lost 1 and an apparent vote of confidence still ringing in his ears.

His replacement? The architect of his demise, Colchester manager Paul Lambert of course.

Everton's humiliation all Man City's fault - Saturday, August 15th

Saturday marked the start of the Premier League season and ESPN's first live game served up a particularly tasty morsel as Arsenal handed a 6-1 thrashing to Everton, the seeds of which were sown in Manchester.

Want-away Everton defender Joleon Lescott, who is agitating for a move to Man City and had a transfer request rejected earlier in the week, reportedly approached Toffees boss David Moyes on the eve of the match to tell him he wasn't mentally ready to play.

Moyes, who has refused to let Lescott talk to City, stubbornly played the centre-back anyway and the England defender's unsettling effect on the back-four has largely been blamed for the uncharacteristic defensive blunders that blighted the Blues' performance.

Despite playing Lescott, Moyes also admitted Lescott's head had been turned. The Scot said: "Lescott has had his head twisted in all of this... I make the decisions... He should get his head around that and get on with his career."

Lescott is now training away from the first-team squad and was dropped for their UEFA Cup tie as he tries to force through a move to City.

Ribery: I never wanted to join Madrid - Sunday, August 16

Franck Ribery brought an end to his on/off Real Madrid transfer saga on Sunday when he revealed that he was staying at Bayern Munich and then surprisingly proclaimed he never wanted to join the Spanish club anyway (stop laughing at the back!).

"I never said I wanted to leave to Real Madrid," Ribery told TF1. "If I wanted to leave, I would have announced it."

So what about the French winger's now infamous quote of "I have made up my mind, I want to leave. It will be Real or nothing" that appeared in L'Equipe?

"Newspapers invent a lot of things," the 26-year-old explained.

Odd then that Bayern Munich's general manager Uli Hoeness revealed later in the week that he would have accepted a €100m offer for Ribery and had told the player this personally.

Ryan Babel better than John Barnes - Monday, August 17

Liverpool substitute Ryan Babel may be a long way off eclipsing the exploits of Kop legend John Barnes on the pitch, but the "sick rapper" is doing his best to leave his Anfield predecessor's musical career in the shade.

We all remember Barnes busting lyrics on the Anfield Rap in 1988 (if you don't it is well worth checking out) and the England international's famous solo on Italia '90 anthem World in Motion, but Babel has already got his own rap video - including the lyrics "No caviar for us, Surinamers eat chicken" - and also landed himself a bona fide collaboration with UK rap star Sway.

"He's actually on the song with me and Neutrino," Sway said this week. "He's a nice guy, he's a sick rapper. The way he flips his flow is marvellous man, so I wanted him to do a bit - half Dutch, half British, and he really pulled it off man. I think it's a track that people are gonna like."

Babel has previously collaborated with a number of rappers back in Holland and also recorded a song with Dutch defender Royston Drenthe of Real Madrid.

Silvio wants salary cap, galacticos splash cash - Tuesday, August 18

On the same day that AC Milan's multi-billionaire owner, and general bastion of morality, Silvio Berlusconi called for a salary cap in football, Real Madrid's galacticos gave the Italian PM a slap in the face by splashing €240,000 on executive boxes at the Bernabeu.

As if to highlight Berlusconi's assertion that "footballers' salaries are outside reality" Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo bought the luxury box - complete with private lift, bars and toilets - in one of the stadium's five Torreones to treat friends and family.

Berlusconi might well say that footballers are "distant from the real economy in which we live in a difficult time like this" but it is only fair to point out that Ronaldo made a nice little saving on his new car.

After selling all his vehicles back in the UK, Madrid sponsorship partners have decided to make a €142,400 Audi R8 5.2 FSI Quattro supercar "available" for Ronaldo.

Benitez rubbishes exit rumours - Wednesday, August 18

Everyday an outlandish football rumour does the rounds but Wednesday's whisper that Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez had fallen out with the Anfield board, again, and was ready to walk out on the club over his lack of transfer funds just would not fall silent.

When a series of UK bookmakers closed the betting market on Rafa's exit, the rumour grew even louder and, when Talksport Radio gave the gossip airtime, the clamour regarding the Spaniard's future at the Premier League club was deafening.

Even when Benitez arrived at Anfield on Wednesday night for Liverpool's match with Stoke City it was suggested that only pre-match crisis talks had stopped the 49-year-old quitting.

But after watching his side beat the Potters 4-0, Rafa set the record straight: "I remain 100% committed to the club, the fans and players."

So just a rumour then. Although one that keeps popping up. As it did in August 2008 after Gareth Barry's failed transfer caused friction with the board and as it did in February when Rafa said: "I was clear before the game that I was not thinking about resigning."

Rovers recruit targets Champions League - Thursday, August 20

It seems like Blackburn Rovers manager Sam Allardyce may have been slightly generous with the truth when trying to convince former Real Madrid defender Michel Salgado to swap the Santiago Bernabeu for Ewood Park.

At his unveiling as Blackburn's new signing the Spanish full-back revealed that he didn't join another La Liga club because he was reluctant to play against Los Blancos after spending a decade at the club.

Salgado continued: "Should Blackburn qualify for the Champions League then I hope that we do not play against Real Madrid."

Blackburn in the Champions League? Just what has Big Sam been telling the 33-year-old? It's a fairly safe bet that Rovers won't be playing Real, at least in a competitive match, before Salgado retires.

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