Roy Hodgson said that he was not going to change his outspoken style after the furore that blew up over his "space monkey" comment to Andros Townsend last month, claiming his words were "totally misconstrued".
The England manager was speaking for the first time about the episode for which he was forced to apologise after a member of his squad allegedly leaked the news that some players had been offended by Hodgson referring to Townsend as a "monkey" – part of a more involved joke he told at half-time of the World Cup qualifier against Poland.
Hodgson said that there had been no wrongdoing on his part and that there was nothing racist or untoward about the comment. His story concerned Nasa sending monkeys into space and while the England manager refused to get into the exact detail of what had been said in the changing room, he did say that it would be impossible for him to change his approach.
Hodgson has proven the most loquacious England manager since Kevin Keegan, happy to address virtually any topic and it was his willingness to embark on his infamous Nasa story at Wembley last month that proved costly. Of the experience, he said: "It should make me cautious but it's always going to be very difficult when it comes to innocent remarks that you cannot possibly imagine will be construed as they were.
"I would like to think it makes me aware of the need to be cautious. But whether or not you can always eliminate everything from your vocabulary is another matter." Later he added that it would be "very difficult to totally change your way of working, your way of being and your personality overnight."
He said: "To come from someone who has always approached the job as I have and even approached press conferences as I have, to become a taciturn, one-word answer person, I don't know how you do that. You would have to change your personality and character completely, so that is the gamut I suppose I will be running."
In front of the television cameras earlier in the afternoon, Hodgson said that "it was difficult to really regret innocent remarks" but that he had "apologised if such an innocent remark could have caused any offence". He said that he would not be launching an investigation into who leaked his remarks. "I trust the players," he said. "The atmosphere in the dressing room... is outstanding."
Asked whether it had been a "storm in a tea cup", Hodgson expressed concern that even that phrase might carry a hidden danger for him. "I am not even privy to say those things, because I upset people," he said. "You decided what the storms are, I will decide what the tea cups are I suppose. I think I will even stay away from that one."
Addressing a wide range of topics, Hodgson, said that he would back goalkeeper Joe Hart. He picked Jay Rodriguez of Southampton for the first time in an England squad, to face Chile and Germany this month, because he could play the same kind of role as Danny Welbeck who has been called up despite currently being out with an injury.
He also called up Jordan Henderson for the first time in 17 months, since Euro 2012. Adam Lallana is in an England squad for the second time, after he was a late replacement for the Ukraine qualifier last year. Hodgson had no concerns, he said, that Henderson may be susceptible to injury because of his running style, as rather controversially alleged by Sir Alex Ferguson.
"No, that's no relevance as far as I am concerned. People are entitled to opinions, and Alex has an opinion which he expressed. That's fine. Who is going to argue or discuss that or criticise that? But it's not something which affected my thinking and I would be very surprised if Alex expected it to."
Hodgson said that he considered Ashley Young's once-again burgeoning reputation for diving to be a "challenge" rather than a "problem" for the player. Once again there was no place in the squad for the Manchester United winger.
He added: "We like Ashley and what he can do because otherwise we wouldn't have selected him for the Euros and in squads afterwards. At the moment when I am selecting a squad it hasn't been easy to select him not least of all because he has played so few games. That doesn't mean to say the door has been slammed in his face.
"I would go as far to say this: in a game of football these days, in particular now more than ever, there are so many cameras and chances to analyse every situation in depth, Really and truly every time someone puts a microphone in front of you there is some burning topic to discuss... I would say really that the referees maybe should be given a bit more credit for the good job they do and not constantly highlighted for having missed an incident."
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