Hodgson and his men furious at 'monkey' storm: The Daily Mail has an exclusive interview with Roy Hodgson in which he lets rip at the craziest story of the year, and is evidently outraged at how it was used to diminish England's joyous moment in qualifying.
"Joy is short-lived in this job. The players are as angry about this as I am," Hodgson told the paper.
"We have just had a successful period and, although I wouldn’t suggest we intend to rest on our laurels, I think we have earned the right to enjoy the fruits of our labours. Instead we get this."
How can Hodgson and his men trust a coward?: The Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward points out that the real worry of this situation is that somewhere in the England set-up is the snivelling wretch who went crying to a tabloid hack rather than air a grievance: "You are an England footballer. One day the manager tells a joke you find unsettling, or even offensive. What do you do? Easy. You, or a third party, run straight to the editor of The Scottish Sun and spill the beans, anonymously, then slide back into shadow. Being a wealthy young man who is conversant with the way the modern media works (you may even have been stung by it yourself in the past), you have no professional obligation to express your concerns to the manager, Roy Hodgson, any of his assistants, any Football Association official or even your own club manager when you have ceased to be on England duty…
"If that reporter asks you to go on the record, as this one apparently did, there is not the slightest moral obligation to attach your name to anything so grubby as an inference of racism. All that matters is that it makes front-page news. "
Hodgson's half-time talk says it all about the pressures his role forces him to shoulder: In The Times, Oliver Kay writes: "As a devotee of Philip Roth’s novels, Roy Hodgson will be familiar with The Human Stain, in which a respectable, intelligent, well-meaning man in his mid-sixties sees his career and his life unravel after he is wrongly accused of racism because of an unfortunate choice of words in a working environment…. Suddenly, since a clumsy but entirely innocent use of the phrase 'feed the monkey' in the England dressing room on Tuesday night, you only have to start writing 'Roy Hodgson' in the Google searchbar and your options include the word 'racist'."
It's not all bad though, according to Kay: "But, unlike poor Coleman Silk [in The Human Stain], Hodgson comes out of this with his image enhanced, not least because it is a reminder of what he is up against."
Hodgson's only crime trying to be too clever: In the Daily Mail, Jamie Redknapp says he thinks Hodgson overcomplicated things. "Here’s what Roy Hodgson was trying to say. ‘Get the ball to Andros. He’s tearing apart their left back. He’s our match winner — so flood him with the ball.’ I can’t imagine why he didn’t just say that. Keep it simple. Use the time to get clear messages across. But, leading 1-0 and with adrenalin and energy pumping, he tried a complicated and confusing analogy about monkeys in space. And here we are with the England manager having to say sorry.
"Hodgson is guilty. Guilty of confusing his dressing room. Guilty of trying to be too clever. Guilty of being pleased with himself, emotions high, leading 1-0 and 45 minutes from the World Cup. But ‘Roy A Racist’? Really? Come on! How utterly absurd."
Hodgson was warned that his words might have caused offence in the dressing room: The Daily Mail's 'What Really Happened' piece says that, "a member of Hodgson’s coaching staff pulled the manager to one side to ask if he felt sure that the phrase ‘feed the monkey’ would not be misinterpreted by young players. Hodgson was alarmed. He had not appreciated the sensitive nature of his language and decided to speak with Townsend after the game to make sure the winger had not been offended. According to sources in the England dressing room, Townsend accepted his explanation and was almost apologetic to Hodgson."
Paper Round says: Not a single paper gives any serious column inches to those very few voices calling for the FA to investigate - and most telling of all is The Sun's coverage. The paper that started it all has no front or back page mention of Space Monkey-gate - instead, relegating the news to a small piece on page six saying "Roy in clear" and reporting that the FA will not investigate. Let's all hope that's an end to the whole sorry mess.
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Old Trafford to bring back terraces: The Independent reports that Manchester United are considering bringing back standing areas for matches. The club have, "agreed to investigate the viability of introducing a safe-standing area at Old Trafford – a move which could potentially deliver major impetus to the campaign for an alternative to seats for fans in the Premier League." The report adds that United have always been against the idea in the past, but new chief exec Ed Woodward is interested in making the necessary (and costly) changes to the stadium as proposed by the Football Supporters' Federation, and already backed by other clubs including Aston Villa, Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Cardiff City, Swansea and Hull.
Paper Round says: Hundreds of thousands of fans still go all misty-eyed when they romanticise the days when you could stand up to watch top flight football - but any return to standing would need an act of Parliament to repeal the 1989 legislation mandating all-seater stadiums in the top two divisions. That seems far too much to expect considering what a political hot potato this could be, considering that we're still getting new fallout from the Hillsborough disaster nearly a quarter of a century on.
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Maradona wants to following in Benitez's footsteps: La Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that Diego Maradona wants to be the next manager of Napoli after Rafael Benitez leaves. Maradona spent some of his best (and also most drug-addled) years at Napoli, and would love to return as boss.
Paper Round says: Poor old Napoli - just when their future was looking brighter than it has done in years, something like this happens. Bringing back a club legend might prove too much for owner Aurelio De Laurentiis to resist.