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Oct 8, 2009

Darren Bent denies he is Darren Bent

This was the week in which Inter hot-head Mario Balotelli offered hugs to disgruntled Nerazzurri fans, a Bulgarian match was abandoned after four injury-strewn minutes, Darren Bent denied he was Darren Bent and Portsmouth entrepreneur Jamie O'Hara set himself up as a loan shark.

Apologetic Balotelli offers hugs - Friday, October 2

Inter Milan hot-head 'Super' Mario Balotelli has an unfortunate habit of getting himself into trouble and the young striker has apologised for his latest costly mistake by offering to hug disgruntled Nerazzurri fans.

Following his red card during Inter's surprise 1-1 draw against Rubin Kazan in the Champions League, Balotelli felt moved to write an official letter of apology, published on the club's website, to say sorry for his indiscretion.

Dear Nerazzurri fans,

I am so sorry for my red card in the Champions League. Unfortunately I made two silly mistakes that cost us dearly and cancel out all the effort I put into this game. I hope to make up for it in future, continuing to give my all with the utmost professionalism.

Hugs. Mario

Although the letter has a distinctly PR spin to it, particularly the "utmost professionalism" reference, and Balotteli appears not to have learned anything from his dismissal at the European Under-21 Championships, you can't really argue with a hug.

Game abandoned after four injury-strewn minutes - Saturday, October 3

A football match in the Bulgarian league was scrapped after just four minutes at the weekend when title challengers Gigant Belene ran out of players.

The third division side, who had been hit by spate of suspensions and injuries, could only field eight patched-up players for what local media claim was a highly-anticipated clash (and we will have to take their word for it) with Chavdar Byala Slatina.

Already up against it, the luckless home side, in second place in the division before the match, suffered a further two injuries within minutes of the kick-off, leaving referee Stoyan Denev no choice but to abandon the game.

According to Bulgarian rules a team must have at least seven players on the pitch, so visiting Chavdar were awarded a 3-0 victory for what was the shortest football match ever played in the Balkan country.

Ronaldo-less Real sunk by Sevilla - Sunday, October 4

Despite not playing a single minute against Sevilla on Sunday Cristiano Ronaldo still managed to grab the headlines. Real's first defeat of the season was largely attributed to the absence of the chest-waxed wonder from Los Blancos' expensively-constructed attack.

Those of you who read this column regularly (shame on you if you don't) will remember that last week it featured a voodoo priest who claimed he had been hired to cast a spell on Ronaldo that would cause him to lose form and get seriously injured. Real, and the rest of us, laughed off the hocus-pocus as the former Manchester United star smashed in two goals in a 3-0 Champions League win over Marseille and made a mockery of the claim.

However, then came a tough tackle from Marseille's Souleymane Diawara that caused Ronaldo to limp off at the Santiago Bernabéu and apply an icepack to his swollen ankle. That injury means he missed the game against Sevilla and voodoo aside it seems it might be a case of no Ronaldo, no win, for Real Madrid.

However, there was one person more than happy that all the focus was on C-Ron and that's Madrid full-back Marcelo. The Brazilian was skinned, filleted, chopped into chunks and stewed by Sevilla's two-goal hero Jesus Navas. Marcelo's dire defending is the real reason Manuel Pellegrini's side lost and was so bad that AS have linked Roberto Carlos with a return to the Bernabeu.

Dugarry: Domenech has done "everything wrong" - Monday, October 5

Former France international Christophe Dugarry's withering put down of blundering Les Bleus boss Raymond Domenech was so good that it needs little explanation. Suffice to say that since Domenech guided France to the 2006 World Cup Final (they lost) the team has been in a dramatic downward spiral.

"If we hadn't kept him on, we would only be asking ourselves one question now: how are we going to win the World Cup?" Dugarry told Le Parisien. "Because of him, we are asking ourselves something else: how are we going to get to South Africa?"

"It's sad," the 1998 World Cup winner added. "If I was in the place of Domenech, I would have done exactly the opposite of everything he's done since the beginning. He's done everything the wrong way."

France stuck with Domenech despite the fact he failed to win a single game at Euro 2008 and Les Bleus are battling with Austria to claim a play-off place and a chance to qualify for World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

Darren Bent: I'm not Darren Bent - Tuesday, October 6

Despite a £10 million summer switch to Sunderland and a hugely impressive start to his career at the Stadium of Light former Tottenham Hotspur striker Darren Bent has revealed that he often pretends not to be Darren Bent.

"People usually ask me, are you Darren Bent?" the striker told channelbee. "And I say no."

Bent's reluctance to admit who he really is might explain the baffling decision by England manager Fabio Capello to not include the in form striker in his England squad to face Ukraine at the weekend.

Capello: "Hello? Is that Darren Bent?"
Bent: "No."

The 25-year-old also revealed in the interview that he has a secret crush on pop star Katy Perry, thinks the depletion of the ozone layer will cause the end of the world and believes in ghosts "having seen a couple of people who are very pale".

O'Hara the Pompey loan shark - Wednesday, October 7

Portsmouth's Jamie O'Hara was not at all concerned by the club's well-publicised delay in paying the players' wages and the on-loan star set himself up as the dressing room loan shark.

The 23-year-old still collects his pay-packet from Tottenham Hotspur and was more than happy to tease his cash-strapped team-mates as the squad made light of their lack of funds.

Pompey team-mate Aaron Mokoena revealed: "Kevin Prince-Boateng came in before the Wolves game and said to us: 'You guys are sitting here joking and everything, but you don't have any money!' Then Jamie O'Hara, who is on loan from Tottenham, said: 'Yeah, but I'm still getting paid by Spurs so I can give you all a loan!'

"There have been a lot of laughs. We are a happy team. I have never once been tempted to ring my bank manager and ask if I'd been paid."

With new owner Ali Al Faraj replacing Sulaiman Al-Fahim, who owned the South Coast club for just 42 days, wage worries should be thing of the past. The Pompey players must now concentrate on staying in the Premier League, and that's no joke.

Call me Mr Motherwell Football Club - Thursday, October 8

We have all heard of people named after their parents' favourite football player - Dennis Bergkamp was named after Denis Law, although the Holland star added another 'n' so as not to be mistaken for a Dutch girl - but not many people name themselves after the club itself.

But that is exactly what 20-year-old Lanarkshire student Frazer Boyle did when he changed his name to Motherwell Football Club for the princely sum of £33. Having legally made the change by Deed Poll Mr Motherwell (or is it Mr Club) has already applied for a new driving licence and passport.

The man formerly known as Frazer Boyle said: "I am the only Motherwell fan in the house so I don't think anyone understands why I did it. My girlfriend isn't too bothered but I'm not sure if she'd be happy maybe being known as Mrs Motherwell Football Club eventually."

We can be fairly sure that Mrs Motherwell Football Club wouldn't like it. But at least Motherwell Football Club can change his name back if Motherwell Football Club do a Wimbledon/MK Dons and change their name to something like Franchise FC, unlike those fans who indulge in a full body tattoo of their favourite player the day before their idol is transferred to their arch-rival.

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