Paper Round: Hodgson savaged for ‘grovelling apology’ to Rio

If Roy Hodgson needed a jolting reminder that he is over the honeymoon period for the England job, he has only to read this morning’s back pages.

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Paper Round: Hodgson savaged for ‘grovelling apology’ to Rio
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English national team coach Roy Hodgson reacts as he attends 10th UEFA Conference for European National Team Coaches held at hotel in Warsaw September 24, 2012 (Reuters)

Some would argue that Roy didn’t even get a day or two to settle in, after The Sun mocked his inability to pronounce the letter ‘r' on the day he got the job, while his first interview bizarrely saw Hodgson quizzed over Apartheid as if that might somehow explain his attitude to Rio Ferdinand and John Terry.

Anyway, fully five months into the job, Hodgson is facing the wrath of the football journalists for... well, what exactly?

To summarise, Hodgson took the Tube to work, heading out to watch Arsenal in the Champions League on Wednesday night. Rather than simply blank the people he travelled with, he engaged in conversation with people about the team, only for it to transpire that one of his fellow passengers was a former News of the World journalist who sold the pictures and the story to the papers.

According to Hodgson, all he said was that Ferdinand might not have made the squad – not especially revelatory, given Hodgson has never picked him.

"Of course I didn't say that Rio's career was over,” Hodgson was forced to say in the press conference.

"What I remember saying is talking to quite a lot of people on the tube, and one guy said, 'Is Rio in the next squad?', and I think I might have said 'I don't think so'. But I think that's about as far as I went.

"But I shouldn't say that of course. That's a mistake and I need to apologise for that."

So the measured response from the papers covering England?

The Sun – Blunderground

‘Roy Hodgson dragged England management to new depths as he was forced to issue a grovelling apology to Rio Ferdinand over his astonishing Tubegate blunder’. And The Sun know a thing or two about blunders, because they drew donkey ears on Fabio Capello only two years ago for not picking Andy Carroll.

‘Despicable’ is the headline on the editorial from Steven Howard (you can guess the tone), followed by a mock-up Tube map based on Roy’s ‘gaffes’ - trains apparently calling at the likes of Not Very Goodge Street, Leicester Square Peg in Round Hole, and Victorio.

The Daily Mirror - Rio rage at Roy

Rio Ferdinand is furious about Hodgson’s Tube comments – ‘and believes their fall out has become personal’. That’s a story that’s as EXCLUSIVE! as it is lacking in direct quotes on Ferdinand’s fury.

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The Daily Star – Roy twists the knife

How can Hodgson make it any worse, Paper Round hears you scream in anguish. The answer is to ‘immediately humiliate the centre-back again’ by suggesting he would sooner play Michael Carrick in central defence than Rio Ferdinand. Of course, that’s not what Hodgson really said in yesterday’s press conference – he simply said that he had four centre-backs in the squad (Gary Cahill, Joleon Lescott, Phil Jagielka and Ryan Shawcross) and if for any reason he needed someone else from within the squad, he could drop Carrick back as a defender. In a squad where Rio Ferdinand is not included, Carrick is a better option than him. Remind us, the Daily Star: who’s twisting the knife?

The Daily Mail – When England bosses blunder

A round-up of the Hall of Shame for England managers, which includes Steve McClaren giving an interview with a Dutch accent. Which, of course, took place a fair while after he was in charge of England, and had just started working at FC Twente. Unforgivable (if admittedly hilarious) stuff.

The Daily Express – How can England win the World Cup in Brazil?

A different approach from the Express, who take a picture of Roy thinking – and add a ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ mock-up underneath. How can England win the World Cup in Brazil, they ask (presumably for the £1m jackpot – it doesn’t specify):

A – Pick a good team

B – Talk Scholes out of retirement

C – Wrap Joe Hart in cotton wool

D – Keep your mouth shut on the Tube

Sadly, the gag doesn’t really work, because evidently the direct answer isn’t D.

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Hodgson was asked what he’d learnt from this incident in the press conference yesterday, and said: "I've paid for it. I shall learn in future, and maybe this will be a lesson for all those people who see me on the Tube. Please don't be too offended if I refuse to answer any questions you ask me."

‘Refuse to answer any questions’? With a press like that, frankly, Paper Round would be impressed if you found the strength to leave the house every morning.

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