Tottenham End Winless Run, Liverpool Lose Again And Andy Murray Defeated By Novak Djokovic (SPORT MONDAY)

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PEPE
Pepe Reina headbutts James Perch | Getty Images

Nostalgia engulfed top-flight football on Saturday as seven fixtures kicked-off at the once-immortal 3pm time, which nowadays is as rare as an Andy Carroll goal.

Twenty-seven goals were scored during a manic afternoon before Sunday saw Liverpool lose again at the impressive Newcastle's expense, while Tottenham won their first league match since 11 Februrary.

Formula One had its first weekend break, with the Shanghai Grand Prix resuming proceedings next week, so Andy Murray took centre stage for Brits on the continent.

He however suffered an eighth defeat of his career to Novak Djokovic in the Miami Masters final on Sunday, while Gavin Henson was forced to apologise for more misconduct. And no, it has nothing to do with trash TV.

It's just another manic Monday...

Another Perch fall for Liverpool
James Perch was headbutted by Pepe Reina. Just. But it was still a headbutt.

The Spaniard received a deserved red card for his reaction to the Newcastle defender tripping him, but Perch too should have followed him down the tunnel. He was booked for upending the Liverpool goalkeeper, but should have received a second yellow card for then feigning agony when Reina made minimal contact with his forehead.

Perch is from Mansfield and Andy Carroll - who executed an outrageous dive yesterday - is from Newcastle. Any jingoistic fans who still cite football’s unseemly aspects as a “foreign disease” should remain under their rock. Remember Franny Lee?

Fresh or frustrated?
Andy Murray’s straight sets defeat to world number one Novak Djokovic in the Miami Masters final on Sunday prompted an inevitable debate over the Scot’s possible rustiness.

Rafael Nadal withdrew from his last-four match with the Brit on Friday just two hours before the scheduled start, giving Murray a bye to the final. It was when he was demolished in 6-1 in the first set by the Serb that the excuses started.

Ring-rustiness played a minimal part. The Glaswegian-born world number four had played as early as Wednesday against Janko Tipsarevic, and although tennis tournaments consist of a match every other day, an energy boost and avoiding Nadal should always be welcomed. Not to mention the stomach upset Murray overcame to beat Tipsarevic.

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Indulge the Italian?
Enigma doesn’t quite do justice for Mario Balotelli. Ever since Noel Gallagher exposed the umpteen myths about him to be just what they are, supporters of Manchester City and other football clubs are growing tired of the Italian.

This week he has been exposed as a tedious attention-seeker. His presence at an Internazionale press conference this week was sensationalised as him “gatecrashing” the event, when he merely interrupted it. Why always him? Because he wants it to be him.

A day later he was embroiled in another training ground row with manager Roberto Mancini at City’s Carrington complex, and was told to train away from the squad.

And then the toys were thrown out of his diamond-encrusted pram on Saturday when he became angry that Aleksander Kolarov was to take a free-kick for the Citizens. City captain Vincent Kompany told the 21-year-old to clear off, and those fans who lapped up his “Why Always Me?” persona were now booing him

Yet Balotelli scored twice in the game as City rallied from 3-1 down to earn a 3-3 draw. Imagine if he acted maturely and was selfless rather than selfish. But City fans won’t be able to see Mario reincarnated, if ever he achieves that.

Mancini admitted on Friday he doesn’t trust him, while Balotelli told Gallagher he is only at City because Mancini is. Yesterday, The Sunday Times reported Mancini will sell his striker in the summer, and for the benefit of City’s harmony, it is essential. He may be better than the misfiring and mistiming Edin Dzeko, but Balotelli has had numerous training ground rows snapped by prying reporters and is the culprit hitting the self-destruct button as his team fall further behind United in the title race. Ironically, despite Saturday’s goals.

Howling
Wolves are a mess and caretaker manager Terry Connor, now bearing the brunt, is a victim of some staggeringly bad boardroom decision-making.

But if Steve Morgan and Jez Moxey are to be demonised, so too should Roger Johnson. Ostensibly the club captain, he has turned up for training drunk, his wife has ridiculed Connor for dropping her husband on Twitter, and he confronted a team-mate on Saturday before being skinned by Kevin Davies. All in under a month. Captain fantastic.

Hapless Henson
Few started taking Welsh rugby player Gavin Henson’s career seriously when he began to participate in reality TV shows - one of which had him as The Bachelor. And now he has had to apologise for alcohol-fuelled behaviour on a flight the morning after a Cardiff Blues game.

The 30-year-old shot to prominence when he hit a winning penalty to kick-start Wales’ 2005 Grand Slam feat and then travelled with the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand later that year. But the cynics were out in force when his career appeared auspicious.

The fake tan, manicured nails, ostentatious boots and spiky hair shouted “wannabe”. Dating Charlotte Church made him the Welsh equivalent to David Beckham, but the caveat was he believed the hype.

And so he faded into sporting obscurity as rugby endeavoured to ostracise him. His current “career” as a union player seems to be in name only, and this recent misdemeanour is another thoughtless and risible act to add to a long list of snafus in the mainstream.

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