It is said about Sir Alex Ferguson that he has built a career out of proving people wrong. They doubted him before he won the first Premiership title with Manchester United. They doubted him when he won that famous title by ‘playing kids’. The 99 treble, The triple champions, the 2003 comeback and the 2007 title – time and time again SAF proved his critics wrong.
The same can very well be said of Sir David Beckham.
He was sent out on loan early in his career, not seen fit to play for United while Scholes, Giggs and Gary Neville cemented their places in the starting XI. But Beckham came back stronger, won his position on the right and made it his own. The 98 world cup, the 2001 world cup qualifying campaign, the 2003 / 2004 seasons, when SAF threw him out and Beckham turned in two of the best seasons of his career (his last for Manchester United and then his first for Real Madrid), the 2006 World Cup (where Beckham had a direct hand in each of England’s 3 wins), the Real Madrid fiasco where Beckham fought and won his place back in the squad, and now his England recall.
I admit – even I had given up on Beckham returning to the England setup, although most of that can be attributed to Steve McClaren’s managerial skills rather than any problems with David Beckham himself. However, the man is back and is there to help England win in Estonia and keep their Euro 2008 qualifying chances alive.
A lot has been said about David Beckham’s form in recent weeks – it’s good to hear that he has overcome the problems that he was facing earlier this season, but to be honest Becks is a player who consistently delivers on the big stage, as long as the manager knows how to use him.
David Beckham is a match-winner – he’s proved that many teams over his international and club career – and England are in dire need of match-winners. With an unfit Owen and no Rooney, England will rely on Steven Gerrard, Joe Cole and if he is picked, David Beckham.
This combination took them to the World Cup quarter-finals, and with a fit Rooney / Owen could have taken them farther.
Surely this combination can help England qualify for Euro 2008 then?
Football is cruel, so I don’t expect Becks to go to Euro 2008, or even get many starts once Lennon recovers.
Steve McClaren recently said that a) Becks would have been picked earlier if he’d been fit, b) that Gerrard was more suited to a central role and c) England needed Beckham now, and that’s all that mattered.
It’s all good that McClaren has ‘seen the light’, but if you wanted to pick Beckham, why not say it earlier when England were being murdered in the press? Pressure on the players? You’ve got Steven Gerrard playing on the right, and he’s a big enough boy to stand up to any such comments – not only that, he could probably use the kick up the arse to push on and win games.
Why has it taken McClaren so long to see that Gerrard is more suited to a central role?
And the mere fact that Beckham was needed since March is proof that McClaren got it wrong after the World Cup – he got it wrong because the players he banked on to get the job done couldn’t get it done.
Steve McClaren has made several mistakes in his short England career – putting them right only takes us back to the days of Sven Goran Eriksson. To win the fans, McClaren can’t just pick match-winners, or the best XI – he has to pick the best team, and that means making some tough calls.