United hold back on new Rooney deal: Manchester United are prepared to play a risky waiting game over Rooney's new contract, reports The Times. The club are happy to let the in-form striker make the first move before negotiations begin over a new deal following his agitations for a move to Chelsea in the summer. United hope the player will indicate he is ready to discuss new terms but that stance is a dangerous one and raises the possibility of him leaving on a free transfer in 2015.
Paper Round's view: Given Rooney's new lease of life under David Moyes, the player finds himself in a good bargaining position - be it over a new contract at Old Trafford or a deal elsewhere. It is indeed a risky strategy being employed by United, but presumably they want assurances that his heart is at the club before they offer him anything else. Even then though, his current scintillating form means he will be able to justify at least a similar deal to his current one. Increasingly it looks we'll have to endure another saga at the end of the season.
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Rodgers lays into Fergie: Most papers have reports on Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers' blast at Sir Alex Ferguson over comments the former Manchester United boss made in his recently-published autobiography. The Daily Mail's Matt Lawton makes it clear which side of the fence he is on, praising Rodgers' "classy riposte" to Fergie's "spiteful jibes" over Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. Interestingly, the Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward - also Ferguson's ghost-writer - offers a different perspective, urging Rodgers to read Ferguson's book cover-to-cover before making snap retaliations to news stories. If he had, Rodgers may have realised Ferguson had "no intention of launching a rocket at Anfield, or writing half a dozen back-page headlines". Hayward also points out that Rodgers contradicted his own recording of a fly-on-the-wall documentary by questioning Sir Alex Ferguson's decision to pen the tome.
Paper Round's view: It's easy to buy into Hayward's pro-Ferguson stance - especially considering the hypocrisy of some of Rodgers' quotes. "Anyone who's been in football knows that whatever is said behind closed doors and in the changing room is something you wouldn't want to hear again," said Rodgers, who sanctioned a fly-on-the-wall documentary about the inner-workings of Liverpool. "It's something that's vitally important. You want to know as a human being that you can speak openly and communication is honest, and hopefully wouldn't get repeated." Certainly not on television, eh Brendan? But equally, Ferguson never says anything without thinking long and hard about it. He, of all people, knows how the media react, how the best sound-bites would have been taken from his book and disseminated to the masses, and how they would have been interpreted. Perhaps though Rodgers didn't respond in the right way. As Hayward himself suggest, far better to come back with something along the lines of: "He’s perhaps a bit peeved that Steven established himself as one of the all-time great Liverpool players and a constant menace to United". Now there's a classy riposte.
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UEFA, FIFA urged to act over Toure claims: 'Here's an idea for FIFA... stop rewarding the racist boneheads with showpiece matches!' That's the headline of Martin Samuel's column in the Daily Mail following Yaya Toure's accusations of racial abuse he suffered the other night. In the face of blanket denials from Russia that anything went on in Moscow, Samuel speaks out and, albeit in a pretty sarcastic way, gets his point across to the game's governing bodies that a good way to deal with such crimes is to stop rewarding those who perpetrate them. So, Samuel says, stop giving Russia, which has a chequered past concerning racism in football, glamour matches and tournaments, such as the Champions League final (awarded by UEFA to Moscow in 2008) or the World Cup (awarded by FIFA to Russia in 2018).
Paper Round's view: Samuel should be applauded for a putting across what is a sound and sensible view, even though his standpoint is hardly rocket science. Unfortunately, the powers that be have displayed a level of intelligence entirely at the opposite end of the spectrum to rocket scientists when dealing with this issue in recent times, as the column details. It's time for them to learn a new trick - how to stand up to the racists.
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Fabregas wants Arsenal return: The Guardian has the first of a two-part interview with Cesc Fabregas today, with Spain-based journalist Sid Lowe learning that the Barcelona midfielder would like to return to the Emirates at some stage. But before Arsenal fans get excited/outraged, the article makes it clear that Fabregas would only come back as a coach. He also says that his departure from north London was good for the club, and for Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere in particular.
Paper Round's view: 'Cesc Fábregas admits that he would like to return to Arsenal one day' is a great headline, but a rather cheeky one at the same time. Returning as a coach is not at all the same as returning as a player, but nevertheless, Fabregas could well have something to offer Arsenal on the training ground in later years.
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