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PLAY IT SHORT: AVB should've taken PSG offer; Man Utd academy mess; Sterling emerges from self-doubts; Barkley thriving under Martinez

VILLAS-BOAS SHOULD'VE TAKEN PSG CASHSo this is how Andre Villas-Boas' is repaid? It's worth reminding those feeling Daniel Levy was right to fire the Portuguese that it was barely five months ago AVB was rejecting a far BIGGER contract offer from PSG out of loyalty to the Tottenham chairman. His 53.7 per cent winning record was the best of any manager at Spurs since the Premier League's inception. Everyone is giving Vincent Tan pelters over his treatment of Malky Mackay at Cardiff - and rightly so. But the same should be said of Levy, whose demands of fluid football from such a changed squad is simply unrealistic. Like at Chelsea, Villas-Boas has been left hung out to dry by a silent chairman. But he's still managed to land on his feet, with £16 million due him in compensation from the two clubs, and an approach fielded last week from AC Milan.

STERLING STRONGER FOR DIPRaheem Sterling was at his very best against Cardiff City on Saturday. The Liverpool winger deserved his goal, wonderfully set up by the new, "unselfish" Luis Suarez. At the start of the season, there were legitimate doubts about whether Sterling could fight back from last season's form slide. Was he a flash-in-a-pan? A new contract and an England cap, it looked like it had all come too soon for the teen. But what he's managed to do in a matter of months, Fernando Torres is still trying to work through now at Chelsea. Sterling's experienced the dark moments, the doubts and the outside pressure and come out the other side a stronger player for it. He now knows where to go when the form lapse inevitably comes. Brendan Rodgers will be delighted.

WHAT IS GOING ON AT MAN UTD ACADEMY?Paul Pogba has won the Golden Boy with Juventus. Ravel Morrison could play his way into England's World Cup squad at West Ham United. Zeki Fryers is now making his name at Tottenham. And they reckon 2014 will be Mats Daehli's breakout year at Molde. But it doesn't end there, Manchester United fans. David Moyes is now in the position of having to go back to former club Preston North End about re-signing Josh Brownhill. A player people are likening to Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey and someone who was contracted to United until 18 months ago. And there's no guarantee Brownhill will end up back at Old Trafford with Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers pushing hard to open negotiations with Preston manager Simon Grayson. One or two getting away, even for club of United's stature, can be explained. But this is getting ridiculous. And that's not to mention Bruno Gomes, a nailed on future United player, signing for Internacional last week.

SHERWOOD SUCCESS WILL SIDELINE BALDINIGood win for Tim Sherwood. Good win for Tottenham. The caretaker coach has strengthened his hand with the result at Southampton. But the politics of the win could spell trouble for Franco Baldini. Sherwood was happy to bench Etienne Capoue, a Baldini signing, at St Mary's and after halftime threw on rookie Nabil Bentaleb ahead of the France international. He's made it clear he wants to give the young players he worked with as development coach a chance to make it at Spurs. But where will that leave Baldini and his valued list of contacts? The Italian had his offer of resignation rejected by chairman Daniel Levy last week and also was the only director to back Andre Villas-Boas before the axe fell. He's acted with honour during this chaotic time, but his influence on squad matters could diminish if Levy ultimately goes with Sherwood as next Tottenham manager.

WHY DID MOYES GO FOR FELLAINI OVER BARKLEY?Would £27 million have convinced Everton chairman Bill Kenwright to sell Ross Barkley in the summer? Manchester United fans must be asking why David Moyes went for Marouane Fellaini over Barkley. Moyes deserves credit for bringing through Barkley, but Roberto Martinez seems to have this knack of getting the best from his young players. Think of Callum McManaman last season at Wigan Athletic, or Romelu Lukaku this term on-loan from Chelsea. Barkley is the best they've seen at Everton since Wayne Rooney. But there's a few budding talents inside the youth system at Finch Farm. After a dip last season, George Green is finding his feet again with the U18s. If there's one manager capable of helping the former Bradford City junior reaching his potential, it has to be Martinez.

TAYLOR BETTER THAN QPRSomeone close to Steven Taylor needs to convince the big man to put the brakes on a move to QPR. The Newcastle United centre-half is a player worthy of Champions League football. He's far better than a Championship team. He was in the England squad earlier this year and a solid second-half of the season in the Premier League, even away from the Toon, would put him well in the frame for making Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad. His desperation for regular football is admirable, but his reps surely must be capable of placing him at another top-flight club in January.

AMOREBIETA GIFTED MAN CITY POINTSDon't let the ball bounce! Just head it, son! Fernando Amorebieta's hesitation handed Manchester City the three points at Fulham on Saturday. The Cottagers had City on the rack, dragging the scoreline back to 2-2 and with Adel Taarabt flying, Fulham were well on top. But then Amorebieta failed to attack a high ball, allowing it to bounce and was then outpaced by Jesus Navas, who slipped his shot under Maarten Stekelenburg to put the visitors back in front. From then on, there was only going to be one winner.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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