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Mar 19, 2010

Newcastle thought Zidane "wasn't good enough"

This was the week in which P-Diddy planned to put the Cristal into Crystal Palace, Rafa Benitez suffered a withering attack, Newcastle apparently thought Zidane wasn't good enough, David Beckham was immortalised in verse and Shunsuke Nakamura suffered reverse culture-shock.

Zidane chased out of Toon

Agents. They talk a lot. Most, if not all, of what they say can be easily disregarded but Barry Silkman served up a dose of self promotion so large it was impossible to ignore when he claimed that he offered Zinedine Zidane to Newcastle United, only to be turned down.

The future World Player of the Year proved to be the 'one that got away' from a rueful Bazza when Zizou was looking for a way out of French Ligue 1 side Bordeaux back in the 90's.

"I offered him [Zidane] to Newcastle at the beginning of the 1996 season for £1.2 million,'' he said. ''And they watched him and said that he wasn't good enough to play in the First Division which is the Championship now. Three months later he went to Juventus for £1.2 million and two years later he went for £48 million. So I think the people at Newcastle got it slightly wrong."

Somebody certainly got it wrong. Could Kevin Keegan really have turned down the chance to sign the French international playmaker and successor to Eric Cantona, who was winning the Premier League title with Manchester United at time, for a mere £1.2 million?

Beckham injury commemorated by Poet Laureate

If you are one of the few people fortunate enough to be able to afford space travel and have been orbiting the earth for the past week you may have missed the news that David Beckham ruptured his Achilles tendon and will not be going to the World Cup.

The great and the good all sent get-well-soon messages to the devastated England international, including Prime Minister Gordon Brown, but the pick of the bunch came from Britain's Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, who immortalised Beckham's injury in verse.

Achilles

Myth's river - where his mother dipped him, fished him, a slippery golden boy flowed on, his name on its lips.

Without him, it was prophesied, they would not take Troy.

Women hid him, concealed him in girls' sarongs; days of sweetmeats, spices, silver songs ...

But when Odysseus came, with an athlete's build, a sword and a shield, he followed him to the battlefield, the crowd's roar,

And it was sport, not war, his charmed foot on the ball ...

But then his heel, his heel, his heel ...

P-Diddy to buy 'Cristal' Palace

American rap star P-Diddy is considering using his vast wealth to buy struggling Championship club Crystal Palace (yes that P-Diddy) because he likes the name, according to a report in The Sun this week.

The hip-hop mogul "plans to put the Cristal into Crystal Palace" and according to what the newspaper refers to as 'a UK spokesman', the New Yorker has dismissed Fratton Park in favour of Selhurst Park. "Diddy was in London meeting football fixers a couple of weeks ago," a source said. "The finance is in place, he's just deciding who he thinks he'll make a bid for. Portsmouth were mentioned but he thought Palace were a better idea. He could cover their debt and bankroll a return to the Premier League. He liked the name as well."

The Eagles would surely welcome such a bizarre investment given that the club is bankrupt and facing relegation after having ten points docked for going into administration.

Riera lashes out at Rafa

Cryptic muttering and murmurs of discontent have been emanating from Anfield for a number of weeks now so it was nice for Albert Riera to put the record straight with a withering attack on manager Rafa Benitez and a clear statement that Liverpool are a "sinking ship".

In what will probably be his final outburst as a Liverpool player, Riera accused Benitez of failing to communicate with his players and lacking the style to manage Real Madrid, a job the Spaniard continues to be linked with.

"He thinks he is in charge and he just turns a deaf ear to everyone else," Riera told Radio Marca. "The dialogue with the players is practically non-existent. There is a lack of tact."

Riera added: "At Madrid they ask you to win and play lovely football. We [Liverpool] are effective, sure, but we don't play brilliant football."

Last week, Fernando Torres claimed he would consider quitting Liverpool if the Premier League club does not recruit enough top-quality players to turn them into genuine title contenders and, in January, Ryan Babel was fined £60,000 for questioning Benitez on his Twitter page.

Nakamura freaked out by Japanese

After spending almost eight years in Europe, Japanese international Shunsuke Nakamura returned to J-League action on Saturday only to suffer reverse culture-shock as his new team Yokohama F Marinos defeated Shonan Bellmare 3-0.

Nakumura, who has flown the Japanese flag in Italy, Scotland and Spain, found being surrounded by compatriots all a bit too weird.

"I've played at the stadium here a bunch of times with the national team, so nothing felt new about that," Nakamura told the Daily Yomiuri. "But everyone on the pitch was Japanese and that felt a little weird. Your teammates, the opponents, the referees - that was strange."

Nakamura was also surprised as to how fast the J-league has become in his absence. "The game was quick," he said. "Against the top teams, we're going to have to do better than we did today."

VT of the Week

Manchester United quartet Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Gary Neville and Darren Fletcher go head to head in a crossbar challenge at the club's Carrington training complex.

Rooney switches to his left foot halfway through, Giggs shows he is the true master at Old Trafford and Darren Fletcher proves he will claim for absolutely everything.

Best of the Rest

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• Buffon "very annoyed" with Man City link

• Think of slogan, go to the World Cup

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