'Broadsheet man' Hodgson once again feels tabloid wrath but has is honour defended by Tottenham Hotspur forward Townsend and radio pundit Collymore.
Roy Hodgson once said: 'England has been good to me. I’m proud to be English,' however, the media frenzy whipped up by The Sun's front-page 'monkey gaffe' has seen his proud name sullied. England may have been good to the man, but has the media?
Upon his official unveiling as the national team manager, the race spotlight was instantly shone on Hodgson as press reporters grilled him for working in South Africa during Apartheid. Like he has done throughout his impressive tenure as England boss, Hodgson remained composed and articulated an intelligent answer - as if he'd been expecting it.
There may have been no expectation that he was to be front-page news following his and his side's heroics at Wembley Stadium the past week. A six point haul was virtually a mandatory requirement against Montenegro and Poland and the Lions, with particularly strong performances from Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard but most of all Andros Townsend, collected them all.
The back-pages were filled with England's progression to the World Cup finals.
The Sun's front-page focus on Roy Hodgson's team-talk, that featured a NASA joke about feeding the monkey, though, has shown a regression, according to TalkSport radio pundit Stan Collymore, who said: 'It is a storm in a tea cup that does not warrant a place in a national newspaper. If Roy has said that phrase in the dressing room then it is in the context of the story.
'People are walking on egg shells, worried about everything they say. Why would the word monkey have a racist feel for someone in the dressing room, or any player? I can’t see the link, can you? I can see the link in terms of old, well-worn stories about blacks being more aligned to monkeys than white people are. The only thing I can see is a well-worn stereotype which is being used on the front page of a newspaper.'
Hodgson arguably has one of the most varied, eclectic and multi-cultural resumes in football. He has managed in Sweden, for Switzerland (getting them to the last 16 in USA 1994), in Italy with Internazionale, in Denmark with Copenhagen, for the United Arab Emirates, for Finland… the list goes on.
Collymore targets precisely why this story may be news now, and it has little to do with Hodgson's character, but more to do with timing: 'Every single time England qualify for a tournament, or their profile goes up, there are these nonsensical stories which help derail a team which has just qualified for a football tournament in Brazil.
'We’ve all got the right to feel offence, but this is really spurious. What are you actually offended by? The word ‘monkey’? I don’t see any reference to race. You have to look at the big picture. Instead of writing a sexy headline picking out two or three things, you have to look at the context in which it was said.'
The 'feed the monkey' speech Hodgson gave was as follows: 'NASA decides to send a shuttle into space with two monkeys and an astronaut on board. After months of training, they are putting all three in the shuttle and prepare for launch Mission Control announces: “This is mission control to monkey one. Do your stuff.”
'The first monkey begins frantically typing and the shuttle takes off. Two hours later, mission control centre announces: “This is Mission Control to monkey two, do your stuff. The second monkey starts typing like mad and the shuttle separates from its empty fuel tanks. After another two hours mission control announces: “This is Mission Control to astronaut...”
'The astronaut interrupts shouting: “I know, I know – feed the monkeys and don’t touch anything!”'
Townsend, who the press have insinuated the speech was in reference to… as in: pass the ball to Townsend, has also backed Hodgson in the issue.
I don't know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken! It's not even news worthy!— andros townsend (@andros_townsend) October 17, 2013
image: © nicksarebi