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Beckham off forgotten: Why Capello is right to ditch Olden-balls


Beckham on the England bench in South Africa

This is a blog post written in mere frustration at the inevitable headlines in tomorrow’s English press. There were two cracking goals from captain Steven Gerrard and some eye-catching debuts after a dour first half in England’s 2-1 win over Hungary. More questions about John Terry and Wayne Rooney’s performances and yet, somehow the sneaking suspicion is that Fabio Capello saying Beckham is probably ‘a bit old’ to continue on for the 2012 European Championships will dominate the talk of the tabs.

Beckham and actress Charlize Theron at the World Cup draw

Beckham, ‘a bit old?’ Yes, he’s 35-years-old and yet Capello has to use the words a bit because if he were to dare and suggest Beckham was over the hill there would be an outcry. But the fact is this: Beckham shouldn’t be anywhere near the squad because he just isn’t good enough anymore. When was the last time Beckham was a world beater? The man moved to a league that barely gets any professional respect worldwide and when he did, he chose to become a celebrity footballer rather than a footballer.

Beckham the celeb

His performance for AC Milan against Man Utd last year was testament to this. He didn’t have the legs. Faced with an able and pacy left-back, the England man kept cutting back infield and passing square. Serie A is a slower league than La Liga or The Premiership. MLS in America is simply weaker. These are the leagues Beckham has been playing in during the twilight of his career. It’s the footballing equivalent of moving a manager upstairs. Putting him out to pasture but keeping him around for his experience.

And to be clear, this writer admired Beckham a great deal. His famous performance against Greece was a thing of beauty for any football fan. The way he dealt with England fans after his sending off against Argentina? The way he played his way back into Capello’s plans at Real Madrid, and played extremely well. His charity work and the amount he does to raise interest in the game. Not withstanding the fact that, despite having never met him, he seems like a genuinely decent man.

But Capello’s actions tonight will provoke an outcry. This website believes the Italian will be gone before the end of the qualifying campaign because the English media have decreed it so. Capello has proved his worth as a manager. Over and over. And when England cruised through qualifying he was hailed as worth every penny of his exorbitant salary. But pundits call for him to show his value as a coach and yet he will be derided for failing to inform an injured 35-year-old that he didn’t figure in his plans? How many 37-year-olds play in major championships? Why is the issue about Capello that he didn’t call a man who isn’t even available to him to select?

But the World Cup was not good. England were poor. Terry had been stripped of the captaincy due to the Wayne Bridge affair. Ashley Cole’s marriage was splashed all over the newspapers in a sort of hate campaign. Rumours about Gerrard’s marriage reared their head. The Capello Index was slated by everyone (and rightly so). Ferdinand pulled up injured near the time for South Africa. Carragher was brought back controversially (why was it controversial? Because the papers didn’t like him turning his back on England too early in his career) while Scholes was not brought back (no problem with Scholes retiring early though).

And David Beckham was given a place on the bench alongside Capello in a move to ensure his image remained with the team and helped the global campaign to get England hosting the World Cup as soon as possible. Beckham. Injured. No coaching experience. Armani suit. Issuing instructions, applauding, jeering the referee.

And England fans really expected they would go there and win? You’re having a laugh.

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