Paper News and Gossip: Roy's Rage, Casillas Eyes Real Exit and Changes at United
England boss Roy Hodgson is headline news, and it's fair to say he's not happy about it.
There's a certain Chelsea manager who is full of joy, as he talks in glowing terms about a couple of his veteran stars.
We have a couple of goalkeepers who are the subject of transfer speculation while potential changes at Old Trafford are in the news.
All this and more features in Friday's edition of the Paper News and Gossip Roundup.
Roy Hodgson 'Angry' About Monkey Controversy
Monkey-gate (someone else is going to use the term, so we might as well get in early) has threatened to overshadow England's World Cup qualification, and manager Roy Hodgson has admitted to feeling saddened by the affair.
News broke late on Wednesday evening that Hodgson, during half-time of the win over Poland, had referred to a long-standing joke about a monkey in space in a bid to get his point across that England should continue to give the ball to Andros Townsend as quickly as possible in the second half.
In a bid to head off a storm, Hodgson later issued an apology in which he insisted no offence had been intended. The fact that the story had been leaked from within the dressing room, however, suggests at least one individual had indeed been offended.
The likes of Townsend and Wayne Rooney have spoken out in defence of Hodgson via their Twitter accounts while Joey Barton hit out at the individual who spoke to the press.
Hodgson has told the Mail's Neil Ashton and Michael Henderson that he is unhappy the issue is overshadowing the team's achievement:
Joy is short-lived in this job. The players are as angry about this as I am.
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.
You would have to go a long way to find somebody who is less racist than me. I have coached almost everywhere in the last 37 years, worked with all kinds of people, so this intimation of racism—you can hardly call it a story—is so saddening.
Jose Mourinho Feels John Terry Is Back
Jose Mourinho has spoken in glowing terms of John Terry, with the Chelsea boss insisting his captain is "back on track" following a turbulent couple of years.
Injuries and off-field issues looked like they were derailing the career of Terry, who was a fringe player under Rafael Benitez last season.
The return of Mourinho to Stamford Bridge has proven to be a masterstroke, as Terry has looked fit and focused. His manager has seen the change.
In a piece by the Mail's Riath Al-Samarrai (with quotes from the Guardian) Mourinho said of Mourinho's turnabout:
He’s recovering his self-esteem. In the last few years he was not playing a lot, he had problems on the pitch, he had problems outside the pitch, he had suspensions for different reasons, he had injuries, he had managers who didn’t trust him enough. And it looked like his career was going in the wrong direction.
Even I was questioning, from far away, what was happening: physical problems, psychological problems, what is going on? I’m happy he’s proving he’s still a top player.
John is proving his quality. With what he did at Chelsea in the last decade, I think he deserves to be back on track.
Frank Lampard Can Be the 'new Andrea Pirlo'
Pirlo is one of the world's finest midfield operators, controlling the play like a quarterback. You will rarely see Pirlo charging 40 yards forward at top speed, but he will prompt attacks with his creative genius.
Lampard's career has been built on his energy, with his box-to-box play marking him down as one of the best players of his generation.
At 35, Lampard's capacity to charge back and forth for 90 minutes is not as strong as it once was, but Mourinho recognises this and feels a new role—a Pirlo role—beckons.
Mourinho said of Lampard's tactics:
Of course Frank can become that. He has to adapt and learn every day how to play with this 'new body'. A player can still learn new skills at his age, for sure. I'm 50 and have been a manager since 2000, and I'm learning every day, every match, with every experience. You can always learn new skills, especially if the player has an open mind like he does.
He's a player who can keep the side's balance, a player who thinks about the game and can work with kids around him.
For him, it was very good that I'm back because the trust is so big. At this moment of his career, it was very important for him to have somebody like me around. For him, it's very good.
Iker Casillas Hints at Real Madrid Exit
Iker Casillas has put Premier League clubs on alert, via the Mail's Graeme Yorke, by stating he might look to leave Real Madrid in January.
Casillas has been a Real player all his life, having come through the youth system and making his debut in 1999.
He had been the recognised No. 1 for well over a decade, but lost his place to Diego Lopez last term and has failed to win it back.
Casillas told York that he considered leaving in the summer, and that he is likely to think hard about it again in January if he remains on the bench:
If the situation doesn't change within three months and you ask me the same question, I'd probably say that I'll be looking to leave.
In September I wanted to leave and I was going to tell the president that I wanted to go, but I decided to be a part of this squad and this club for a lot longer.
Aston Villa Ready to Let Shay Given Go
Aston Villa have opened the door for Shay Given to leave the club in the January transfer window.
The keeper has found his path to the first team blocked by Brad Guzan, and Villa boss Paul Lambert has admitted, via the Mirror, that the keeper can head for a new challenge if a suitable offer is tabled:
One thing with Shay is that he has been excellent. He is a great pro. He does everything right and a great goalkeeper.
I’ve spoken to Shay and if something happens, we will look at it. He wants to play. There is no two ways about it. He wants to play.
Thomas Vermaelen's Agent Cools Arsenal Exit Talk
Thomas Vermaelen's agent has distanced himself from reports linking his client to a move to Serie A sides Juventus or Napoli in January.
The burgeoning partnership of Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker at centre-back, coupled with the effects of a back injury, have limited Vermaelen's impact for Arsenal this season.
There have been reports of interest from the Serie A sides, dating as far back as May, but the Star's Nick Lustig quotes Vermaelen's agent Alex Kroes, via NapoliCalcioLive, as saying the speculation is all a "game."
“We do not want to take part in this ‘game’," Kroes said. “I want to distance myself from, and deny, these rumours. I deny absolutely everything.”
Standing Room Talk on the Agenda at Manchester United
"Standing room only" is a phrase that frustrated commuters fear in the slog into work every day, but it could be ringing around a section of Manchester United's Old Trafford in the future as well.
All-seater stadiums were introduced in the top two divisions in England in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, but in recent years, there have been calls for the return of safe standing areas at grounds.
It is not something United have considered in the past, but the Independent's Ian Herbert and Robin Scott-Elliot report that it is now on the agenda:
The Independent understands that the club's new chief executive, Ed Woodward, expressed a willingness to explore the idea when supporters' representatives put it to him at a recent fans' forum.
With Woodward's experience of standing at Chelmsford City, in his native Essex, being a contributing factor, the Premier League champions have now agreed to look at the logistics of altering the Old Trafford infrastructure to accommodate the increased number of supporters that a safe-standing area might bring.
Herbert and Scott-Elliot point out that before any alterations can be made, there must first be a change in government legislation, as the 1989 Football Spectators Act "decreed that stadia in the two top divisions must be all-seater."
Bits and Pieces: Klose Eyes Prem Move, Matic Wants Chelsea Return
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Jefferson also reports that Lazio striker Mirosoav Klose has set his sights on a summer move to the Premier League.
Nemanja Matic is keen on a return to Chelsea from Benfica, writes Metro’s Jamie Sanderson.