WHAT worries me about this morning's press coverage of the John Terry/Vanessa Perroncel affair is just how soft the tabloids have gone since the French underwear model received her hush money on Friday.
Incredible. The Mirror say the poor lass wants to be reunited with the father of her three-year-old Wayne Bridge, The Sun have got some mushy stuff about Toni and John Terry both getting shirty, it's all so nicey-nice now.
Just like Max Clifford, the famous (and talented) publicist would want it. The money (allegedly £800,000 according to the Mirror and The Sun, the News of the World said £750,000 yesterday) seems to have brought an end to the great quest for press freedom.
Suddenly the Mirror have stopped searching for what they called last week "Terry's second Chelsea wife" and the Sun's investigation into "the fifth Chelsea lover of Ms Perroncel has gone strangely silent.
Weird isn't it? Can it be that the whole thing was just a tawdry tabloid tale, generated by Mr Clifford until his client was satisfied? And who exactly paid this hush money? John Terry? But according to today's Mail there is a suggestion the poor £150,000-a-week axed England captain is struggling for money because of his huge outgoings.
Is anyone going to investigate where this money came from to keep Ms Perroncel quiet? Could it be that our brave investigative journalists on the tabloids are happy to just let the truth be hushed up... for cash?! Surely not.
I stand by what I've said throughout this sad tale. John Terry - as he proved again during the 2-0 win over Arsenal yesterday - can captain the side at the World Cup no matter what he might get up to off the field. He was captain of Chelsea yesterday and the crowd loved him during a faultless performance - and he made the first of Didier Drogba's two goals.
The journalists today all make a big point of how well Terry played despite the pressure - if they'd read this blog, they'll have noticed he scored the winner at Burnley on the day of the first revelations, was impeccable against Hull during the week. And when he was under similar pressure last year over revelations about his mother's shop-lifting and his father's salesmanship, he thrived too.
Fabio Capello has done the big, brave thing and sacked Terry as captain. But the story was no more than yet another tabloid publicity stunt to make money all round. And Rio Ferdinand now offers a succulent target for the next set of shock-horror revelations.
Clearly, Rio has been a good lad since his early days when allegations and missed drugs tests surrounded the lad from Peckham, who now does a lot of work for charity and anti-knife crime organisations.
But no footballer is spotless. The News of the World and Max Clifford know that.
Terry is history. Job done. Bring on the next victim. It's the way of the world. But I suspect Mr Capello, a devout Catholic, didn't quite realise that.