Beckham Quits Captaincy Before He Could Be Sacked

For all the support this column has shown to David Beckham, even I have to admit that one of the first decisions Steve McClaren would have made in his tenure would be to replace the Manchester United legend as captain.

It wouldn’t have mattered if the new manager had been Hiddink or Scolari or Martin O’Neill instead. England needs a new captain after this World Cup, one who will lead them to greater success.

When you think about it, Beckham has been one of England’s top performers in the World Cup – indeed one of the most influential. Little of that can be attributed to Eriksson’s tactics as England players rarely gave Beckham the ball in the last 3 games.

Whether it was a conscious effort or just a result of Beckham’s lack of pace, it typified how limited Beckham’s role in the team had become. It’s a mark of the player’s quality that he managed to have a hand in helping England win three games out of five despite Eriksson’s inflexibility of Beckham’s position on the pitch.

Beckham announces that he is stepping down from England's captaincy

David Beckham announces his decision to step down from England’s captaincy before the team returns home from Germany.

There has been a lot of talk about how this was England’s best chance to win the World Cup. Thing is, the current squad is good but with players like Lennon, Carrick and Downing coming in, plus SWP, Wes Brown, Kieron Richardson and Defoe back in England (not to mention Hargreaves who had his best game in England colours), the England team can scale even bigger heights come Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. Gerrard, Terry and Rooney – three of England’s most inspirational players – will be in their prime and England would fancy their chances, especially if teams like France and Italy end up losing their crop of experienced players by 2008.

But back to David Beckham. England’s former captain had his best days in the qualifiers for the 2002 World Cup, and since then while he has had great seasons for his clubs. One might attribute his departure from Manchester United as the beginning of the end of his international career and the emergence of Terry and Gerrard as integral members of the side has led fuel to the suggestions that Beckham should be replaced.

Next England Captain?

It’s a tossup between Gary Neville, John Terry and Steven Gerrard – the three captains in the first eleven. Of these, Neville is nearing his end, and one of McClaren’s first tasks will be to groom a right-back to replace Neville. Wes Brown and Luke Young are both strong candidates for that position – despite being a center-back Wes Brown’s addition to the squad will give England the flexibility they lacked in defense (with Hargreaves having to play left-back in Neville’s absence).

That leaves us with John Terry and Steven Gerrard. They are both of the same age (25-26) so are sure to be around when 2010 comes around. I’ll be doing a more detailed analysis on who should be England’s captain after the World Cup, but if you were to ask me now I’d put my money on Gerrard – the man thrives on responsibility (see his last two seasons for Liverpool) and is a far better player than Terry (though both are equal on effort and commitment).

What do you think?

England’s Captaincy In Photos (Courtesy of BBC Sport)

[tags]England, David Beckham[/tags]
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