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Walk the walk, talk the tosh

Nothing like a job vacancy at a biggish club to bring out the most predictable of nonsense.

Tim Sherwood could be better than a quick fix for Tottenham Photograph: Getty
Tim Sherwood could be better than a quick fix for Tottenham Photograph: Getty

The entourage behind Andre Villas-Boas - less than 36 hours after his dismissal from Tottenham Hotspur - let it be known that he has been "inundated" with enquiries, including West Brom (who he turned down out of hand) and "a club in the knockout stage of the Champions League". That, of course, was supposedly AC Milan, as anyone with even a passing familiarity with the process of elimination could confirm.

The suitability of caretaker manager Tim Sherwood, as Villas-Boas' permanent successor, is earnestly debated with a straight face, not based upon whether he may be a good enough manager, but rather whether he's a "big enough name" to appease the White Hart Lane supporters. It's the usual class hang-ups. The braying, dim-witted masses who are only impressed by shiny headliners, surely they'll storm the palace if they don't get some kind of celebrity coach! (Never mind the fact that even a child knows that after the first few games, all managers are judged by results.)

A website called Zapsportz.com suggests Glenn Hoddle is among the favourites to return home to his old club. This is accompanied by a big photo of Andy Gray: "Spurs and Hoddle? It's a no-brainer!" And, of course, the "Zapzone" section, which is "home to Glenn Hoddle's Zapstarz collection!" Then you find out that Zapsportz is actually part-owned by Hoddle himself.

That was followed by Harry Redknapp at his priceless best. Asked to weigh in on Sherwood (who happens to be his son's close friend and former business partner), he waxed philosophical, saying "[Tottenham] seem to sack a lot of managers don't they? They've appointed a lot of managers in the last few years, I think the only success they had was with an Englishman ... "

Redknapp added: "Tim [Sherwood] is a good man and has great knowledge of the game, so I hope he gets a chance and isn't overlooked for a Dutch, Italian or French manager simply because he's not a foreigner."

For now, arguably, Sherwood is a better option than jumping into some supposed quick fix. You could also see them keeping him in the job until the summer, if that means eventually getting the man they really want - provided he doesn't have too many more nights like last Wednesday's League Cup exit to West Ham. In the interim, they'll have to deal with plenty more naked attempts to manipulate public opinion.

Liverpool announced last Friday that Luis Suarez had extended his contract until 2018, earning himself a tidy pay rise to £170,000 a week until June and then up to £200,000 for the rest of the deal. "What's most important and most exciting is that, at just 26 years old, his best years are still ahead of him and we now know we'll be seeing him reach that potential in a Liverpool shirt," said manager Brendan Rodgers.

He knows full well this isn't quite the case. Because, truth be told, it's reasonable to believe there's a bunch of stuff in that contract to which we're not privy. Starting with Suarez's freedom of contract.

After wrangling all summer over release clauses and the like, you'd imagine his agent, Pere Guardiola (who, of course, happens to be the brother of a well-known manager) made sure he left himself an emergency exit door. If Suarez was twitchy at the fact that he hasn't played Champions League football since 2010, that urge won't get any better if they don't qualify for next season's competition.

Equally, you'd expect Liverpool to have protected themselves as well, both with some safeguard against a transfer to another Premier League club and, if there is a release clause, with a number large enough to keep them satisfied. As for the wages, £200,000 a week puts him in the £10 million-a-year-range. A big number, to be sure, but slightly more than a third what Cristiano Ronaldo earns. Less than Gareth Bale and less than what he could have earned had he forced a move in the summer.

Suarez seems genuine when he talks of his attachment to Liverpool as a club and his gratitude for them standing by him during his bans. Rodgers seems to glow when discussing his professionalism and performances. Still, just because you're in love doesn't mean it's a bad idea to get a pre-nuptial agreement. Which is what they've done.

VINCENT Tan right now is somewhere between international figure of fun and the embodiment of all that is evil about wealthy, interfering overseas owners. And, yes, his behaviour has ranged from the loopy to the foolish to the mean-spirited.

But there are a few facts worth remembering. Cardiff City's's net spend last season in the Championship was higher than anybody else's by about 35%. This year, their net spend was greater than all but Manchester City, Chelsea and - by less than £500,000 - Arsenal.

When you don't know much about football and spend such enormous amounts of money, you may have questions about why you are where you are in the table. And you may ask whether the manager really did spend your cash wisely, getting the best possible deal.

And when you have a private email communication with your manager and it ends up all over the papers and you know you're not the one who leaked it, well, you might be just a little bit annoyed.

Malky Mackay is a good man. He may be a good manager, too. For now, based on results, he's a manager who has achieved what you would have expected given the expenditure. But this idea of Malky the Martyr, tormented by this mean foreign owner who looks like a Bond villain, is misguided.

Without Tan's spending, Mackay would likely be just another young manager in the Championship. Should he get the sack, he'll have all the sympathy in the world and be in the driving seat for the next job that opens up. So, yeah, sympathise with Mackay. But maybe, just for balance, spare a thought for the guy who gave him £50m to spend to make it all happen and now is depicted like some kind of unreasonable, insane freak show.

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