The Opposition: The Case for Becks

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).

Will Beckham be fit, loan and contribute at Milan in '10?

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.

19 responses to this post.

  1. Completely agree about Beckham’s skill set. He may not be the 30 goal scorer that some Americans who don’t pay close attention to soccer thought he would be when coming to MLS. But, the things he does, he does very well. I see Beckham coming off the bench around the 60th minute in a couple of the games to send a few crosses Peter Crouch’s way if the Brits find themselves trailing.


  2. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 7:33 AM

    The funny thing as well is that this is nearly the same role he had *last World Cup…..I believe he factored in the 1st half in the group stages and then, after it was apparent his fitness was fully there, came in late in the game to tee up Crouch.

    Makes you appreciate his skills more.

    Next up: Carlton Cole or Michael Owen….:>


  3. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/12/16 at 7:42 AM

    Capello is just being coy. Beckham will be on the roster and he deserves to be. Like you said, he can come on and be an impact player for 15 or 20 minutes. Now if we could just get Mr. Capello to take Michael Owen to South Africa…


  4. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 7:47 AM

    You know what I find bizarre from Capello….you’ve got him coming out yesterday saying that Owen Hargreaves (the original “Jermaine Jones”) has a chance to make the sqaud site up scene and conversely questioning why a fit Michael Owen who has performed well in a reserve role can get’s 1st team time.

    It’s almost like a vendetta against Owen in my mind…unless I’m missing something…you’ve got Defoe, Rooney and maybe Heskey with spots nailed…but then it’s who? Cole, Crouch? Owen deserves to at least be in that conversation.

    Really weird. Owen scores when needed…I wish the USMNT had him….


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 7:49 AM

      Any Galaxy fans out there want to weigh in on Beckham’s motivations this season?


    • We have our own version of Mikey in Deuce who seems to score when needed. It’s just the Dempsey’s speed rivals that of a 55 year-old Owen and not a 35 year-old Owen.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 7:55 AM

        Let me blow your mind for a second…it’s was over 10 years ago that Owen scored that goal against Argentina….

        Two wholly different players…but yes, it sure would be nice to have the Man U sub in the January camp. :>


  5. Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/12/16 at 12:31 PM

    Owen is not a team player. Trust me. I loved him when he was at Liverpool and he has an amazing skill set but he is all about himself. Yes, strikers need to be selfish and he does carry himself well but he doesn’t


  6. Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/12/16 at 12:34 PM

    (odd…) die for his country they way Rooney, Gerrard, Beckham et al do. Yes he deserves to be in the conversation but thats about it. He’s too injury prone and where as has the international experience, doesn’t have the abilities he used too. His likeness to Deuce is a little unfair to Dempsey i think…at least attitude wise


  7. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 12:40 PM

    Shaun….welcome back…it is good having the non-US point of view…thanks for adding….

    Now, though, are you a Carlton Cole fan?


  8. Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/12/16 at 2:13 PM

    though i would take crouch over heskey…if anything for comedic value but watching the spurs game now he’s setting them up for dafoe left and right (and just set up dafoe for the second goal). Heskey though is stronger…its good to have these options


    • Posted by Mark T on 2009/12/16 at 2:18 PM

      Terrific goal. The reverse angle was the best….the ball goes just beyond the outstretched defender to connect with Dafoe’s foot.


  9. Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/12/16 at 2:26 PM

    Liverpool letting go of crouch was a huge mistake…him teeing up torres and gerrard would have been fantastic…FYI…Benitiez is an idiot…why spend 24 million on a Aquilani and NEVER play him. He’s a decent manager, a good tactition and a STUBBORN IDIOT.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/12/16 at 2:32 PM

      Uh, oh…someone rush over to Shaun’s house.

      Crouch works better, in my opinion, is a Defoe, a Donovan, Nicholas Anelka, heck even Benny McCarthy, running off him. I would prefer a Heskey playing with Torres because he gathers the ball further up the pitch and can occupy players. Crouch sitting in the box receiving the ball just takes away from Torres game, imo, which is really to create with the threat of the dribble vs. the immediate shot.

      With Crouch in there–I’m single-manning Crouch and running to two double Torres and let Big Bird beat me. With Heskey, the other defenders are further up the pitch and Heskey can put more in the back of the net on the lash than Peter.

      But maybe I’m getting too techincal.


      • Posted by sfshwebb on 2009/12/17 at 12:02 AM

        I agree to a degree…But you double team Torres and put a man on crouch who will knock down the ball to…gerrard…who is on him? The only people liverpool’s opponents fear are those two but with crouch on the field you cannot ignore him. Plus from what i hear he has pretty good feet for a big man😉. He does gather the ball up further up field. The key is you don;t JUST lump the ball up to him but use it has an option that opponents have to respect…so say alonso (another dumb move by benitez) as the ball…he can loft one up to crouch, pass to torres in open space or tee up gerrard…all viable but very different options that makes it very hard to defend…

        For england at least, he’s someone you bring on for heskey in the 65th minute. Crouch is a better goal scorer and create more on his own than heskey plus the whole tall thing. He knocks them down for rooney, lamps and gerrard or he get shoot them in. He’s a luxury item to be sure…but i think his late late introduction was the reason England were knocked out of the last world cup. He should have come on a lot earlier.

        Target men are only good if you use them sparingly…Heskey is valuable as he is unselfish and strong and will do anything. Crouch is not as strong but is skillful with the ball. Look at the Eagles. They have DeSean Jackson and Mcnabb with Westbrook in the backfield and a great tight end. Solid and strong, you have to watch out for them…throw in Michael Vick and now what? its a nightmare for defenses…but they use vick sparingly but to great effect…thats how crouch can be used at the WC!


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/18 at 4:58 PM

          Problem with Crouch is that he is too static. One of our biggest threats throughout WCQ has been to exploit the space Heskey creates. Plus, IMO, Heskey is a better target man, better hold-up and link-up play.

          If England go for route one football, then Crouch is your man. He’s had plenty of practice this season – Tottenham have played significantly more passes greater than 30 yards than any other team in the Prem…


  10. […] need to see anymore: David Beckham to his World Cup squad assuming he’s healthy. Here was our take a few weeks […]


  11. […] Bellamy, unlike a Zlatan Ibrahimovic always wears his national team pride on his sleeve. We wrote this piece on the necessary inclusion for Beckham in the England side back in December 2009. Still holds […]


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