Paper News and Gossip: Jose Mourinho Blast, Wayne Rooney Denies Diving
Unsurprisingly, Chelsea's Champions League defeat at Paris Saint-Germain dominates the back pages on Thursday.
The Blues looked to be heading for a 2-1 loss at the Parc des Princes before Javier Pastore hit a late third for the French champions. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho rounded on his team after the defeat.
Elsewhere in the papers, Manchester United have not given up hope of landing Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos, according to reports.
But who else is making the headlines on Thursday? Read on to find out more.
Jose Mourinho Slams 'Joke' Chelsea Defending and Berates Lack of Firepower
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho let rip at his players following the 3-1 defeat at Paris Saint-Germain, which leaves the Blues with an uphill struggle to progress to the Champions League semi-finals, reports Martin Lipton of the Daily Mirror.
The Blues had fallen 2-1 behind after David Luiz put through his own goal, but a late third from Javier Pastore left the Stamford Bridge club facing additional problems for the second leg.
Mourinho is quoted as saying:
The third goal was a joke. Not a goal, a joke. It was ridiculous.
We scored an own goal and we enjoyed the third goal with Pastore, because the third goal was about Pastore, and us.
We made individual mistakes in areas where, for the whole season, the guys have performed with no problems.
They have the right to make the mistakes because we have other players who have made the mistakes all season.
Andre Schurrle started as a lone striker in the game before being replaced by Fernando Torres, but a lack of cutting edge hurt Chelsea, claimed Mourinho:
If we had their strikers we'd be winning things, of course. I'm not happy with my strikers' performances, so I have to try things.
With Andre, at least, I know we have one more player to have the ball. He's not a striker but the team can have control of the ball possession.
But football is not just about that. It's also about scoring goals, getting behind, and that is for strikers, real strikers. And I had to try.
With top strikers at this level, it's one chance equals one goal. We don't have that.
Kim Willsher of The Guardian reported that Chelsea and PSG supporters had clashed in the French capital before the game.
Wayne Rooney Denies Diving as Manchester United Continue Toni Kroos Chase
Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has dismissed Bayern Munich claims that he dived in the incident which saw Bastian Schweinsteiger sent off during the Champions League tie on Tuesday, reports Neil Custis of The Sun (subscription required).
Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola had pointed the finger at the Old Trafford star, but the England international insists Schweinsteiger could have injured him in the challenge.
Rooney is quoted as saying:
He could have hurt me, he’s gone in with his studs and the referee has booked him so it’s not my decision.
I've tried to stop myself getting hurt and the referee has had a decision to make.
It’s not nice to see anyone sent off and I didn't try to get him sent off. I think it’s a foul.
Meanwhile, United manager David Moyes is continuing his pursuit of Bayern star Toni Kroos and will offer £40 million for the midfielder, reports Alan Nixon of the Daily Mirror.
Barcelona to Fight Against 14-Month FIFA Transfer Window Suspension
Barcelona have vowed to fight the transfer ban placed on them by FIFA for two windows, reports Neil Rowlands of the Daily Mirror.
The world governing body imposed a 14-month suspension on the Camp Nou club for breaking the rules on the signing of players aged under 18, notes the article.
But the La Liga champions will not accept the punishment without a fight and have confirmed they will appeal the decision to FIFA and, beyond that, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, reports Rowlands.
Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey Returning to Fitness for Arsenal
Arsenal are set to be bolstered by the return to fitness of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, reports John Cross of the Daily Mirror.
According to the article, Ramsey could return for the FA Cup semi-final against Wigan Athletic next weekend after recovering from a thigh injury, which has kept him out of action since Boxing Day.
Germany international Ozil has not featured since picking up a hamstring problem in the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich last month.
But the former Real Madrid star is now stepping up his rehabilitation and could return to action after the Wembley date with the Latics, says Cross.
Gareth Bale Helps Real Madrid Toward Champions League Semi-Finals
Gareth Bale has been under intense scrutiny ever since his world-record move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in the summer, but he made a significant mark on the Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund, reports Pete Jenson of The Independent.
The Wales international opened the scoring in the 3-0 win over Dortmund at the Bernabeu with his third goal in two matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the third of the night to equal Lionel Messi's record of 14 in a Champions League campaign after Isco had also got his name on the scoresheet.
West Brom Striker James Morrison 'Backed by Team-Mates' in Saido Berahino Row
West Bromwich Albion striker James Morrison is being backed by team-mates in the wake of the reported row with Saido Berahino, claims James Nursey of the Daily Mirror.
The Scotland international reportedly struck Berahino in a dressing-room row following the 3-3 draw with Cardiff at The Hawthorns last weekend, claims the article.
But Morrison had the support of his team-mates over the alleged altercation, reports Nursey.
Berahino has ruled out taking legal action over the incident, reports Luke Edwards of the Daily Telegraph.
Bits and Pieces: Romelu Lukaku in Spurs Link, Stuart Pearce, Felix Magath
The Belgium international, who is currently on loan at Everton, will be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge for £20 million if the Atletico Madrid star joins the West London club, claims the article.
Former England international Stuart Pearce will take over as Nottingham Forest manager, claims Ian Baker of the Daily Star.
The former Manchester City boss made his name as a player for Forest and is set to succeed the sacked Billy Davies at the City Ground, claims the article.
Fulham are poised to sack manager Felix Magath at the end of the season if the club are relegated, reports Duncan Wright of the Daily Star.