RVP says sorry to team-mates: Robin van Persie has apologised to his Manchester United team-mates and claimed he was not criticising them in a post-match interview earlier this week. The Daily Mirror reports that the striker pulled his colleagues aside at training to apologise for his remarks and claimed that he was talking about his own game rather than having a go at them - or their under-fire first-year manager David Moyes. The paper also claims that the Dutchman's comments had caused unrest in the champions' dressing room, and the 30-year-old was said to be ‘genuinely shocked’ that what he said had been made to sound like a self-centred moan.
Paper Round's view: Another day, another Van Persie story to fill out the papers. This particular 'development' was inevitable but now it seems the story has run its natural course (outspoken comments in native language interview picked up by English media, followed by general outrage leading to claims of an imminent transfer, followed by claims of misinterpretation/being lost in translation, followed by team-mates' rebuttals on social media, followed by apologies all round, followed by definitive 'we're all mates who just want to win' statements), it will be shelved at least until the transfer window re-opens. Then, the interview is likely to resurface and be used as evidence that Van Persie does indeed want away and we may have to go through the whole, rather tiresome, process once more until he either declares undying love for United and pens a new bumper deal - or actually signs for another club.
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End of 'Le Sulk' Anelka: Nicolas Anelka is set to quit English football after an FA independent tribunal handed him a five-match ban and fined him £80,000 for making the 'quenelle' gesture. All papers report on the hearing, with the Daily Star among the papers to suggest that the Frenchman is certain to walk away from England after the "shattering verdict". Anelka has been told to stay away from training pending an internal investigation by West Brom and the Star claims it is "unlikely he will stick around for possible further punishment from the club".
Paper Round's view: Anelka is going to miss half of the Baggies' remaining fixtures this season but is running the risk of having his contract terminated by the club before those 11 games are up. If West Brom do decide to go down that route, at 34 years of age and with his reputation tarnished, his options could be rather limited on these shores and one final move abroad is most likely. Qatar? The MLS? Back to China? With Anelka, you never know.
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Commission into England talent crisis delayed: England manager Roy Hodgson is a relieved man after the FA Commission on the nation's talent crisis was delayed until after the World Cup, reports The Times. Hodgson had feared a debate about England's failings could have overshadowed preparations for the tournament in Brazil. It was expected that Greg Dyke would report back in April, but there will now be a delay of up to six months before the FA chairman explains his steps to improve the number and quality of English players.
Paper Round's view: Hodgson's fears were entirely justified - who knows exactly what Dyke's report will unearth, but it's safe to say it won't make comfortable reading for anyone associated with the national side. And if that became public knowledge just a couple of months before the World Cup, there can be no denying the team would be de-stabilised. All that the manager needs to do now is lead England to a glorious success in Brazil, and we can forget about the whole thing.
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England WAGs set for Brazil: The wives and girlfriends of England player have been given the green light to accompany the squad to Miami this summer, reports the Daily Mail. That, the paper claims, opens the door to WAGs being invited to the World Cup in Brazil. England will be in Miami for warm-up games against Ecuador and Honduras before heading to their tournament base in Rio de Janeiro.
Paper Round's view: Great news for the papers carrying this report and its gossip pages, not so great for the public who will have to endure the nation's bizarre fascination with footballers' wives. And considering that both Miami and Rio are notoriously fun cities with plenty of extracurricular attractions to enjoy, we can expect to see a whole lot of orange skin, expensive handbags and high stilettos on the pages of our newspapers this summer.
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Newcastle set for transfer war chest: Alan Pardew expects to be given substantial funds once the transfer window re-opens this summer, according to the Daily Mirror. The Newcastle boss is hoping to sign two strikers, a replacement for Yohan Cabaye in midfield and "a couple of other faces" as he looks to rebuild his squad at the end of the season. The club appears to be cash-rich at the moment, given a post-tax profit of £9 million for the year to June 2013, a figure that does not include the £19m from Paris Saint-Germain for Cabaye or the fact that they failed to spend any money in the January window.
Paper Round's view: Pardew not only seems to be confident that he will be backed financially in the summer, but also that he will be there to spend the money, with those rumours of an imminent sacking now gone. However, there must be real concern about what will he do in the transfer market without the expert guidance of Joe Kinnear this time around.
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