It has been widely reported that Jose Mourinho is set to return to Chelsea in the near future, but Matt Stanger ponders whether this is really a good thing for the Blues and the PL...
Roll up, roll up to have a good laugh at your Football365 scribes, as we look back on our pre-season predictions to see who was wrong, who was right and who was stupid...
When news broke that Rio Ferdinand's fitness programme permitted a flight to Qatar and back, it was easy to conclude that he was his own worst enemy. And then a couple of thousand England fans volunteered for the job.
At their most polite, my fellow supporters in Serravalle inquired whether the erstwhile captain knew the score, as eight goals were racked up against San Marino. Many were suggesting where exactly Ferdinand could put that fitness programme. Some specified the angle. Others were blunter still about the Al Jazeera pundit.
Inevitably Roy Hodgson was asked about the chants afterwards; caught between a player and the fans, the manager may have reflected again on the famous Graham Taylor documentary and how this was "The Impossible Job".
Hodgson's handling of the fallout from the incident that led to his appointment in the first place has been widely criticised, his just about tenable position seriously undermined by Gary Cahill's injury against Belgium and Martin Kelly's presence at Euro 2012. If Ferdinand was being omitted purely on football grounds and not because of worries over his presence alongside John Terry in the squad, then Hodgson's wisdom was in doubt.
Ferdinand's own often fallible judgment became questionable again when he strayed over from supporting his brother Anton as the victim of Terry's racist outburst into endorsing that racially derogatory "choc-ice" tweet against Ashley Cole. Still, once Terry jumped before he was pushed and became unavailable for selection, Ferdinand was able to re-establish his PR advantage with his consistent club appearances and the declaration that if selected he would pack his bags straight away.
Hodgson handled the player's subsequent withdrawal from the squad for San Marino and Montenegro graciously - perhaps because that quotation trumped initial criticism that he should have liaised more with United, perhaps because he realised that the criticism of his own conduct has at least a kernel of truth. This should have been the end of the story until the selection of the squad for the summer friendlies, with the player once more part of the manager's plans. Yet instead, blinded by his self-image as to how it would look, Ferdinand tossed away goodwill, perhaps terminally, by catching that jet.
There has been some scandalously one-sided "reporting" this week, not restricted to what may well still be "Rio's official paper". There has been reasoned criticism of Hodgson, too, and of the player. Now it is the supporters whose views are in focus. Should they have turned so vociferously on a player with 81 caps?
Of course that would be more had he not failed to take a drugs test approaching a decade ago, when The Sun produced some wildly sympathetic stories. His branding, his self-congratulatory "humour", his autobiography - "the most talked-about footballer of his generation" - make him distinctly unlovable.
That doesn't make him detestable, though. The alacrity with which an England crowd turns on black stars, such as Ashley Cole, or Sol Campbell for his warnings about Ukraine ("F*** off Sol Campbell, we'll go where we want"), contrasts with the easy ride given to, say, Terry. Turning on your own is counterproductive.
Still, the terrace chant is a blunt instrument, not built for nuance. The crowd will get some flak for what they sang from newspapers that do not hesitate to throw abuse in three-inch high letters or more studiedly compiled phrases to a far bigger audience.
Reporters were right to ask Hodgson the question about the chants; they are not there to do PR for the manager or the FA. On the other hand many of those same reporters are all too happy to do PR for other managers, such as Harry Redknapp, and Hodgson was right to offer his firmest "no comment".
It was a no-win situation. Everyone is better off focusing on the need-a-win, must-not-lose situation in Podgorica on Tuesday.
I think nikked1973 has mailed point there about the media having their darlings. The media pick their demons and their angels carefully in line with public perception, and they really run with them. 2 weeks ago you couldn't go two clicks without seeing an article about Gareth Bale. He was Welsh (and therefore by default nearly English) and he was almost as good as Messi and Ronaldo, so they milked it dry. Every article was a fawning eulogy to his brilliance. Yes he was playing well, but some papers routinely filled their pages with articles on him, often repeating what the previous one had already told us, because it was bascially an exercise in popularity. On the flipside, when the media get their teeth into a player they perceive as being unpopular, they do the same, arguably to an even greater degree. Terry had it massively two years ago. Rooney'shad and Suarez had so much ofit it was coming out of his big two. Endless articles about how terribel they all were. Rio is their favourite at the moment, but what amazes me is that people swallow it all so readily. They see a headline, and a suggestion, and before you know they're unloading paragraphs of abuse and bile about that player because of suggestive articles about what they're like in person. Ferdinands fitness has been woeful over the last 2 or 3 years but the media and public ignored this and used his absence as a reason to slate Roy. Now he's pulled out because of fitness reasons and he's devil himself. It's all very, very silly.- HarryBoulton