Today's fluff is lurking in the dark
In a state of affairs the Rumour Mill hopes isn't quite as sinister as it sounds, the Daily Mail reports that Manchester United scouts are "monitoring" Lars Bender and have established, after many weeks spent eating donuts and wise-cracking in the back of unmarked van parked outside his house, that he is a 23-year-old Bayer Leverkusen and German midfielder who can also play at right-back if required.
Sir Alex Ferguson's spies may also want to keep an eye on events at Stamford Bridge. As if last Sunday's encounter between the two sides wasn't chilling enough, Chelsea have now encouraged any children attending tonight's Capital One Cup tie against United to celebrate Halloween by turning up at the game wearing spooky fancy dress.
"We want all bridgekids who have tickets for the game to come along early and wear their best Halloween outfits so that we can help scare United's players and help the Blues get a win. Get yourself dressed up – it's going to be FREAKY!" declares the club's website, conspicuously failing to advise that, in the current climate, it would probably be best if children entering into the Halloween spirit avoided the lazy option of just throwing a white bed-sheet over their head and inadvertently getting the club embroiled in yet another race row. To celebrate the evening, Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea is also likely to dress up if selected and will take his place between the sticks dressed as a troubled teen in the early stages of his transformation into a werewolf.
Staying with Halloween, the Daily Star reports that Manchester United have "lost patience" with ghoulish Thriller video star Nani and will attempt to move the Michael Jackson stunt double on to the highest bidder in the wake of his refusal to sign a new deal. The tabloid reports that Zenit St Petersburg bid £25m for the Portuguese winger in August, but were put off by his wage demands and decided to sign Hulk instead. United will now listen to offers of £20m for Nani, whose contract expires in June 2014 and replace him with the Porto winger James Rodríguez.
In a move that conjures up disturbing images of Roberto Mancini hooking a mirror ball from the ceiling, polishing his medallion and gyrating to the Bee Gees while dressed in a white flared suit and black shirt unbuttoned to the navel, the Sun says that Málaga will try to prevent "Isco fever" hitting the Etihad Stadium. The Isco in question plays as an attacking midfielder for the La Liga side and currently has a £17m buy-out clause in his contract, but be aware that their player is likely to make loud pinging noises on the radar of Manchester City's new director of football Txiki Begiristain. Málaga hope to up that clause to £30m, or some other ridiculously large number picked randomly for the ether.
QPR will begin their late surge up the table towards Champions League qualification by signing the Real Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho. The elegant 72-year-old Portuguese centre-back is no longer wanted by Madrid and is likely to have his head turned by a megabucks offer from increasingly desperate Loftus Road suits.
And it seems that Ipswich Town fans can look forward to seeing Mick McCarthy presented as their new gaffer in the not–too-distant future after it was revealed on Radio 5 Live last night that the BBC's Suffolk wing had it on good authority that one of the nicest no-nonsense men in football pulled out of a 5 Live punditry gig last night to discuss taking over the vacant manager's job at the Championship strugglers. In other managerial appointment news, the Mirror reports that Henning Berg will become Blackburn Rovers boss today.