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Review of the week

Chris Charles | 13:10 UK time, Thursday, 26 March 2009

As Manchester United's weary players began to flag, Liverpool fans were paying homage to a pennant of a different kind - which (perhaps unsurprisingly) had nothing to do with Jermaine.

The flag in question features a picture of Rafa Benitez underneath the Spanish phrase 'siempre es possible' (It's always possible) and the Liverpool manager revealed it played a major part in him finally signing a new long-term contract.

Benitez said: "It belongs to one of our supporters, and he carries it to every game. I met him last week, and he was telling me I had to sign, saying 'I hope it is for 10 years, no, make that 20 years!' It was really funny, but it also showed the incredible passion of the Liverpool fans and the support they give their manager." The Reds marked Rafa's new deal with a 5-0 walloping of Aston Villa - banner from heaven indeed.

Benitez flag
Coupled with United's shock defeat at Fulham, it cut the gap at the top to one point, prompting one 606 wag to post: 'Missing: 7 point lead and +11 goal difference advantage. Last seen 8 days ago. If found please return to A Ferguson, Old Trafford, Manchester.'

Ah yes, Sir Alex - the epitome of calm before that 4-1 thumping, but now very much in the eye of the storm. During an interview with Alastair Campbell for the New Statesman, the United boss was asked who, apart from his good self, was the best manager in the Premier League. "You'd have to say Arsene Wenger, David Moyes and Martin O'Neill," came the reply. Wot no Rafa?

Fergie's charges clearly went for the hands-on approach at Craven Cottage, although Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes took it a little too literally and both ended up in an early bath. Let's hope Carlton Palmer didn't pop up to surprise them.

Cristiano Ronaldo was fortunate not to join his team-mates after attempting his best Eric Cantona impression on Danny Murphy before waving away his opponent in a fit of pique reminiscent of my four-year-old when I tell her a last-minute revision of the TV schedule means Charlie and Lola is being replaced by 'Daddy telly'.

The Portuguese has gone off the boil of late but an interesting revelation this week suggests his mind may be elsewhere. No, not the latest speculation about a move to Madrid, which has been on and off more times than the Dagenham floodlights, but news that he might have his sights set on a career in pop.

According to The Sun, Ronaldo is keen to link up with his Brazilian namesake and Ronaldinho to become the Bee Gees of the football world.

The paper quoted him as saying: "Somebody mentioned to me a few years ago that it would be a great idea if we made a band called The Three Rs. I loved the idea, it was so funny. I'll mention it to them when I retire, we might even have a No 1.

"I don't know what the other two would like to do but it would be brilliant if I was lead singer." Now there's a surprise.

Personally, I think they'd be better off ditching Ronaldinho, renaming themselves the Two Ronnies and releasing an Elton John cover as their first single. Four Candles In The Wind springs to mind.

Meanwhile, Martin O'Neill, a man well-schooled in the three R's, is trying to keep up with the times by listening to some new tunes.

The Villa boss revealed: "I'm really passionate about my music. My old favourites are Bob Dylan, the Small Faces and The Who. My daughters have tried desperately to drag me out of my era and have given me a few modern CDs. Now I'm always listening to bands like Kasabian and The Killers."

All well and good, but has somebody told him he had a good team that's looked like a bad team ever since February of this year?

Talking of rock stars, Gareth Southgate appears to be metamorphosing into Alice Cooper as his ever-increasing barnet starts to take over the world. There's no telling what's lurking underneath that unruly mop - although Afonso Alves' shooting boots haven't been spotted for a while.

In the Uefa Cup, Man City squeezed past Aalborg on penalties after netting all four of their spot-kicks. Meanwhile, a research team at Liverpool's John Moores University released the formula for the perfect penalty: Run-up 5-6 steps, ball hit not less than 65mph, approach angle 20-30 degrees, shot hit exactly 0.5m below crossbar and 0.5m inside either post - and try not to fall flat on your backside while taking the kick that could win the Champions League final.

Xabi Alonso knows all about penalties after that night in Istanbul but these days he is involved in a different sort of team bonding, with the revelation that he enjoys hosting movie nights at his home for fellow-Spaniards Pepe Reina and Albert Riera. The trio apparently favour classics like Casablanca, while their boss is no doubt a fan of Austin Powers' International Man of Mystery.

One film surely waiting to be made is of the unfortunate incident described by Robbie Savage this week about the time a former Blackburn team-mate wet himself during a particularly hairy flight. Lakes on a Plane, anyone?

Which reminds me of my favourite football quote of 2006, when Andy Townsend was asked for his comments on the original movie - "Snakes on a Plane? What's that all about?"
Jairo in a dress
And finally, story of the week concerns the Brazilian footballer who turned up for a training session wearing a pink dress.

Jairo, who plays for Figueirense, was made to wear the fetching little number as part of a new forfeit scheme to punish out-of-form players - think David James and the Robin Reliant.

Apparently the ploy worked and Jairo had his best game for ages in the club's next fixture, but one word of advice should he be forced to don it again - the pink and the green really don't go - and those shorts are sooo last year.


Daniel Braaten's break-dancing celebration for Toulouse
Nedved gets bottom massage after scoring cracker


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