The grinch in me is really coming out over the holiday season. Not sure why that is.
My leading thought coming into this column: 73% of me thinks that the complete about-face in David Beckham’s play for the Galaxy this past season–once rumored loan agreements weren’t reached–was motivated from a desire to show Fabio Capello he’s still a player and still a team player.
I wonder, actually, how Galaxy fans feel about that statement.
Nevertheless, Mr. Spice certainly showed that he can still play this year. Not only play, but impact a game (albeit in the MLS) and impact a game even when hurt. Now if Becks is hurt, he’s not going to make South Africa, but any coach wants to know if a contributing team member can still make it happen under duress.
The case for me though is clear. David Beckham’s position for the England national team should already be solidified.
Let’s consider why:
• Pitch skills: Primarily, David Beckham is still one of the world’s best “special teams” players. My first recollection of England’s 2006 WC campaign is Wayne Rooney exiting the pitch due to immaturity (on his part and Ronaldo’s part). My second memory: England’s one dimensional attack of Aaron Lennon and Aaron Lennon alone when they couldn’t get the ball successfully to Shrekman Rooney. My third memory, Beckham coming in for a few late game cameos and immediately changing the complexion of the game.
Beckham is still a difference maker. He can’t do it for nearly as long as he used too and his percentage of execution is lower, but he’s still a difference maker. He’s also still up there with the best free kickers in the world (Ronaldo, Danny Alves).
You don’t need Becks for back-up duty. You need him for an acute skillset that no one else gives you on that team besides maybe Gerrard. And we all know Gerrard’s international record.
• Player knowledge: In the past decade, David Beckham has played in the EPL, La Liga, MLS and Serie A. He’s played with the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka, Sergio Ramos and a host of other players that will factor for their national teams. TSG is not running the math here, but we’re guessing that for club and country, Beckham’s played against at least 50% of the UEFA-representing World Cup starters.
Acutely in the group stage, Beckham would and should be there in the ear of Glen Johnson, as England takes on the States communicating attacking tendencies of one Landon Donovan.
• Media Deflection: Next, bringing Beckham deflects attention from your team’s play. With Beckham in the mix, you know that every reporter is going be clamoring for his take on England’s progression. Having Beckham in the locker room to absorb the barrage of press inquiries will be good for the other players and the team.
Imagine if Becks doesn’t come for the home side. Who answers the hard questions after an England loss or draw in the group stage? Wayne Rooney, John Terry. And doesn’t then all of the reporting on England focus squarely on their game performance alone, not the global magnetism of Beckham’s take on the situation?
Further David Beckham beyond deflecting and navigating the media will arguably be treated less harshly should England falter in the early going–not least because he won’t be playing a bulk of the minutes. That shelters the team as well.
The case against Beckham? We can’t think of it.
We made it until the end without even mentioning 2018.