Tag David Beckham

Tag David Beckham

Becks: the romantic’s choice as Scholes’ successor

July 18, 2011 Tags: , Opinion 46 comments

This week, Sir Alex Ferguson said that he is finding trouble filling the chasm vacated by Paul Scholes this summer. Who wouldn’t? Many class Scholes among some of the greatest midfielders in the history of not only English football, but the world game.

Hinting at further spending, the Glaswegian manager noted that “If we can get a player along similar lines in terms of the quality of his passing and vision, then yes, we’d have to do something.” But if the United manager cannot land Luka Modric, Wesley Sneijder or Samir Nasri this summer, is there another short-term option? Football romantics might think so.

Watching Gary Neville’s testimonial against Juventus in May, one could not but think about the number seven. Not Manchester United’s Michael Owen but David Beckham, world superstar, one of the biggest brands in football and – many people forget – still a very good player. World class? Maybe. But Becks retains all the attributes and characteristics to sort out one of United’s biggest problems – midfield.

Many will write this off as the fantasy ramblings of a fan – it is – but that does not hide the fact Beckham has the class that could really benefit United.

One of Beck’s characteristics was on show at Neville’s testimonial. Scholes’ retirement at the end of the season means that Beckham is now the best long passer in the world. The 36-year-old’s display during the match included a range of pin-point 80 yard passes for fun. The player also lasted the full 90 minutes and obviously feels that he is in good physical condition.

Beckham’s past speaks for itself; a United legend, helping the team to six Premier League trophies, two FA Cups and a Champion’s League trophy as part of the treble wining side of 1998-99. Beck’s is a set piece specialist and arguably the greatest crosser in the history of the game. At Neville’s testimonial he took the best corner of anyone in a United shirt for years.

Tactically, Beckham could be just as good an option as Modric. After all, the player has always fancied himself as a central midfielder and allegedly engaged in many heated debates on this point with Ferguson who saw Becks’ crossing ability as the player’s key weapon. The Los Angeles Galaxy player has lost most of what little pace he had in his youth and is finally been able to thrive in his preferred position, where he can dictate play with either short or long-range passing from the ‘quarterback’, regista or deep-lying playmaker position.

In fact Beckham is a more feasible option than Inter Milan number 10 Sneijder, whose natural position on the pitch encroaches on Wayne Rooney’s stomping ground in the ‘hole’. Beck’s control and touch also make him a very good central midfielder; more attack-minded than Michael Carrick.

The stats speak for themselves. Becks has made 16 appearances since March for the LA Galaxy and has notched up two goals and seven assists. In the player’s time in the ever-improving MLS, he has made 65 appearances while scoring 12 goals and has made 24 assists. It’s a similar game-goal-assist ratio to Ryan Giggs over the same period.

Another reason for Beckham’s arrival is experience, offering his boyhood club a year of service while allowing rising talents Tom Cleverley, Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba an earlier chance to break-though into the first team than if the 25-year-old Modric or 27-year-old Sneijder were to join. Beckham’s influence in the dressing room around these young player would also be an invaluable asset to a club which has lost five senior players in recent times.

Beckham has also played in La Liga and his knowledge of ball retention could be a great help to United’s crop of talented youngsters. He might also be able to teach Bébé how to cross! Importantly, Beckham’s relationship with Ferguson has seemingly healed over the years.

Beckham, in the final year of a £135 million contract, would be happy to take a wage cut at the club closest to his heart. He offered to take a wage reduction when trying to secure a loan deal to Tottenham Hotspur earlier this year. After all, the economics of deals for Modric or Sneijder deals are eye-watering; Beckham’s is potentially lucrative for the club. When Real Madrid signed him from United for £25 million in 2003 the club claimed to have made the fee back in shirt sales inside a week.

This is a fantasy of course but there is also a good argument for Beckham’s return, stepping into the shoes of his good friend, Scholes.

Rooney could follow Becks’ path out of Old Trafford

March 13, 2011 Tags: , Opinion 50 comments

The long game heading inextricably towards Wayne Rooney’s Manchester United exit began in October when the 25-year-old striker publicly questioned the club’s ambition and with it Sir Alex Ferguson’s reputation. Stories that the player is doing the same in private is merely window dressing on the many strategic forces that will drive the player out of Old Trafford this summer. That, at least, is one analysis of the highest profile potential departure in a summer of change at United.

Sunday’s News of the World ‘exclusive’ that Sir Alex Ferguson is now considering a summer exit for the player, who signed a lucrative new contract last autumn, should come as little surprise. While fans will inevitably dismiss the red-top story as a fabrication, it is almost certainly contains some truth, albeit a more nuanced story. Indeed, the line that Rooney’s exit lies in the breakdown of the player’s relationship with his manager is probably just a simple interpretation of an underlying truth.

“Rooney has been moaning about the squad again,” says the Rupert Murdoch-owned paper, quoting an unnamed source.

“But Sir Alex has told him he should look at himself first before criticising others. Sir Alex is not pleased with the way Rooney has been playing. Relations between Rooney and Ferguson are so strained that it is affecting other players.”

In that there may well be some truth, although the jocular touchline banter during United’s 2-0 victory over Arsenal on Saturday hardly supports the assertion. Still, the Scot is unlikely to countenance any player – no matter how good – who threatens the harmony of the squad. Roy Keane, whose criticism of his team-mates in November 2005 occurred in an explosive MUTV interview, barely last a week before he was shown the Old Trafford door.

When it comes to the player’s form, however, Rooney can offer little support for the reported criticism of his own team-mates. After all, the player’s output in the past year is barely a fraction of that between November 2009 and March 2010, when the striker scored at around a goal-a-game. And despite six goals in the past eight games, the former Evertonian’s heavy touch belies a player whose confidence is not what it once was.

Indeed, while Rooney’s fall from grace is not yet terminal, it has been profound. Since suffering an ankle injury against Bayern Munich last March the striker ended the 2009/10 campaign without a goal, was a key ingredient in England’s tormented World Cup campaign, and has endured months of poor form this season. Add the hookers, strained marriage, public drinking and bitter contract negotiations to the story and it is far from a pretty picture.

None of that is new of course and supporters can point to the five-year contract signed by Rooney in October, raising the striker’s salary to more than £180,000 a week. In a financial and legal sense the contract ties player and club together, yet it does nothing to preclude a future transfer. After all, Cristiano Ronaldo signed a new contract with the club barely 12 months before an £80 million move to Real Madrid. On a smaller scale so did Phillip Neville.

There are other reasons to believe Rooney’s medium-term future lies outside the club. Not least that talk of major rebuilding work at Old Trafford this summer will come, inevitably, at a high price. In addition to a new goalkeeper, United’s shopping should include a top quality replacement for Owen Hargreaves, a creative midfielder and potentially a left-winger. Additionally, Michael Owen is out of contract and Federico Macheda’s situation remains unclear and talk of Wes Brown and Park Ji-Sung moving on has some merit.

Indeed, there is repeated paper talk of the club spending more than £100 million this summer. It seems off-the-mark – after all the Glazer family has shown no proclivity towards ignoring the apparent lack of value in the market over the past five years. Unless, of course, there is also a major sale to balance the books.

Quite how much United might get for the player, whose star is no longer in the ascendency, is another matter altogether. The mooted fee last autumn was more than £60 million. At that price there is only three clubs on the planet with the financial clout to buy Rooney – Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid. With Ferguson unlikely to countenance strengthening a domestic rival – and the player on a long-term contract – there could be a buying party of one. It’s not always conducive the securing the best fee.

The fee is a mere incidental of course in a longer path that seems, inevitably, to separate player from club. After the Rooney’s behaviour in recent times, once wonders how many tears would really be shed.

Should United sell Wayne Rooney?

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Bring back Becks

December 22, 2010 Tags: Opinion 27 comments

In the spirit of the Christmas there is but one present Sir Alex Ferguson can deliver: bring back a lost son, (Sir) David Beckham. After all the player has consistently stated his love for the club and this loyalty to United, at a time and age when offers might be limited from top European clubs. It is to be greatly lauded.

Meanwhile, murmurs of discontent among Manchester United supporters about the continuous arrival of generations of unknown child prodigies, who usually get released into the slums of the football league or the murky depths of continental football, continue.

Yet Beckham, who has no doubt received offers from many English clubs, including Everton and Sven Goran Eriksson’s Leicester globetrotters professes his continued love for the club.

For the Los Angeles Galaxy star it is simple – “I am Manchester United fan” and consequently he can “only play for Manchester United.”

In England at least.

“I have always missed playing in the Premier League since I left it eight years ago,” said Beckham, as he picked up the BBC Sports Personality Lifetime Achievement Award on Sunday night.

“It’s a great league and one of the most competitive in the world.

“Maybe one day I will come back here but I have always said that it will only be for Manchester United. I am not holding my breath on that one, but we will have to wait and see.

“For me, the best manager in football is Sir Alex Ferguson, who I still regard as a father figure after so many years.”

It is easy to discredit Beckham’s desire to return home of course. But, arguably, the 35-year-old could still command a role in the present United side where his creative instincts in central midfield – the role he grew up playing – or the tried and tested right-wing berth could come in useful.

Beckham’s prospective arrival is be all the more relevant given the departure of Park Ji-Sung for seven weeks to the Asian Cup, coupled with Antonio Valencia’s ongoing injury. Despite his age Beckham’s quality service would undoubtedly be welcomed by United’s strikers.

Despite what many will say about the current level of Beckham’s play in the United States – and his age – the Londoner would, for the first time in years, offer the Reds genuine set piece quality, rather than the lottery of Nani’s dead ball delivery. And in Paul Scholes’ and Ryan Giggs’ continued absence, Beckham might still supply a creative spark.

Any loan deal will come with Beckham’s large wage packet of course but a move could still make strong commercial sense given the global profile the player still commands. It’s a fact team Glazer will no doubt approve of.

Of course, it’s easy to write off the argument as emotionally charged. But, with a hint of realism, Beckham’s re-signing even in the short term makes more sense than say the Spaniard Joaquin, who was recently linked with a move to Old Trafford in the gossip pages. Where imports may flop, Beckham will succeed.

This Christmas lets wish upon a Beckham return to the club where it all began. Wouldn’t you like to see the golden boys run out at Old Trafford once more?

In David’s words perhaps we shouldn’t hold our breath but maybe Santa will bring fans the best present this year.

What next for Becks?

December 5, 2010 Tags: Opinion 26 comments

With the clock ticking down on David Beckham’s contract at LA Galaxy, the former Manchester United midfield will be much in demand from clubs in both the US and Europe. However, two of the most interesting options open to the 35-year-old, who played nearly 400 games for United, are not on the field but in football administration.

Beckham’s four-year journey in Los Angeles ends in November next year, when the 2011 season finishes, unless the Californian club chooses to extend his deal. While Beckham has said he could play until he’s 40, moves are reportedly already afoot by the player’s camp to follow Michel Platini and Franz Beckenbauer from the pitch and into the corridors of football power.

In a week when the fall-out from England’s failed World Cup 2018 bid has been both bitter and angry, Beckham is reportedly being lined up by the Football Association as a future chairman of the body – and potentially earning a place on FIFA’s powerful executive committee to boot.

Mindful of English football’s poor reputation in the world game, some within domestic football’s governing body see Beckham as the man with the PR skills and profile to repair the country’s seemingly damaged reputation, reports the News of the World today.

Beckham’s other off-the-field alternative is club ownership, with his MLS contract containing a franchise option. The MLS commission, keen to expand from 16 teams in 2008 to 20 or more over the next three years, will welcome Beckham as a franchise owner with open arms.

Despite a major contribution to raising the profile of football in the United States, Beckham’s US sojourn is not without its failings. On the field LA finished the current season holding the MLS Supporters’ Shield for the best Regular Season record for the first time in the player’s stint in the city of angels. However, Galaxy lost out to new franchise Seattle Sounders in the play-offs, with MLS following a typical American sports regular and post season system.

Beckham has also intermittently played for Galaxy, appearing just 52 times in three seasons as injury and international commitments restricted the player’s impact. A torn left Achilles tendon suffered while on a second loan spell in Milan forced the midfielder to miss most of the 2010 season; just as an ankle injury had delayed the player’s début for Galaxy in 2007.

However, Beckham’s right to buy into an established franchise or take on an expansion team was confirmed by Commission Don Garber last year, although no details in which club the player might invest are yet clear.

“David has the option for our 20th team,” Garber said in 2009. “That option can’t be exercised until after 2011 or after he stops playing, so we’ve got some time to figure that one out.”

Seattle was awarded an expansion team for 2009, Philadelphia for 2010, and Vancouver and Portland for 2011. Meanwhile, in May Garber announced that the Montreal Impact would join the league as its 19th club for the 2012 season in the renovated 20,000-seat Saputo Stadium.

The 20th seems certain to be located in New York or Detroit, with the pulling power of the Big Apple attractive to sponsors and TV viewers alike. This is especially true after this season’s MLS Cup Final between Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas drew the smallest TV audience in years.

Indeed, in August Pelé was drafted to relaunch the New York Cosmos brand, for whom the Brazilian legend played alongside Beckenbauer in the 1970s. The franchise closed in the ’80s though and is currently little more than a concept, with neither a stadium nor any players signed up to the club.

Meanwhile, the proposed Detroit franchise has already experienced more than one false dawn. In the early part of the decade an attempt failed for lack of community support, although a friendly between AC Milan and Panathinaikos at the Pontiac Silverdome drew over 30,000 fans in August. The new Dome owners reportedly want both an MLS and women’s soccer franchise in the City.

There remains significant other barriers to Beckham’s entry into club ownership though, with no word on whether the Essex-born star is prepared to invest the $40 million ‘franchise fee’ demanded by the MLS, nor if Beckham is ready to give up playing before a 20th franchise comes to fruition.

Sadly, there is little chance Beckham will return to United in the medium term, despite reports that the player could buy into a Red Knights-inspired buyout at Old Trafford; a rumour neither confirmed nor denied by the player.

“In addition to ownership of an American club,” reported ESPN Soccernet in February. “Beckham would look favourably on buying into Manchester United, the club he supported as a boy, and for which he retains an unflinching affection.”

Perhaps even more intriguing is Beckham’s leading role in the failed World Cup bid. Indeed, the FA’s position in the world governing body’s is arguably more marginalised than ever but Beckham has come through the humiliation largely unscathed.

The same cannot be said for Andy Anson, the English bid’s chief executive officer whose decision to round on the media and suck up to the FIFA executive committee embarrassingly backfired.

Neither can the placid – read ineffective – Geoff Thompson have a long-term role in the exec-co if the FA is to regain either power or influence in world football.

Not that any role for Beckham in FA or world administration is likely to come soon, as improbable as it seems. But the prospect is surely a fascinating one for a man who has grown into a world football statesman.

Report: Becks would buy into United

March 12, 2010 Tags: , , Shorts 1 comment

David Beckham will buy into Manchester United – just not yet – according to reports today. Beckham, who wore a green and gold scarf at Old Trafford on Wednesday in a huge boost to the anti-Glazer movement, will focus on finishing his playing career with LA Galaxy before moving into club ownership and not coaching.

“Sources close to Beckham have revealed that while the former England captain is sympathetic to the fans’ cause, which he demonstrated when picking up a green and gold scarf after the Champions League tie at Old Trafford , he will not become a figurehead for the Red Knights crusade to usurp the Glazers,” claims the ESPN Soccernet report today.

“Beckham has no plans to return to England after the World Cup and believes he can continue playing at the highest level for some time yet. However, once he finishes playing, he has his mind set on football club ownership, rather than management or coaching.

“In addition to ownership of an American club, Beckham would look favourably on buying into Manchester United, the club he supported as a boy, and for which he retains an unflinching affection.”

Although the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) used the iconic image of Beckham with a green and gold scarf in an email marketing campaign on Thursday, ceo Duncan Drasdo admitted that Beckham’s public involvement in the movement is highly unlikely while he is still playing professionally.

Beckham’s iconic moment as Nomura crystallise bid

March 11, 2010 Tags: , , , Opinion 1 comment

Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) ceo Duncan Drasdo says that the pressure is now on the Glazer family after an emotional night at Old Trafford culminated in David Beckham donning the colours of protest . It comes as the Red Knights appointed Nomura bank to draw together disparate factions and crystallise a bid for the club.

Drasdo, who has led membership of MUST past 125,000, says that Nomura’s appointment will bring together groups, including the Red Knights and the fans, to formalise an attempted takeover in the coming weeks.

“I think the important thing is that the Glazers are business people and they see it as a business. We see it as a football club,” said Drasdo, who along with the Red Knights will need to find more than £1 billion to fund a bid.

“There’s huge pressure on them [the Glazers] now, obviously emotionally but also in terms of revenues.”

Commenting on Nomura’s appointment as bid advisors, Drasdo said that the Japanese investment bank will play an important role. The Nomura team, led by Guy Dawson the United board advisor prior to the Glazers’ 2005 takeover, will bring together more than 60 high net worth individuals who have reportedly pledge money towards the bid.

“It [Nomura’s appointment] is hugely significant because it’ll start to crystallise the offer,” added Drasdo.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest from the so-called Red Knights and Nomura’s job is to organise it. It’s really important to understand that it’s not just about the Red Knights, the supporters are really important.

“128,000 of them have signed up and its about the Red Knights giving the fans opportunity to own part of the club. The fans have to grasp that opportunity and become involved.”

David Beckham

Green and gold, David Beckham dons protest scarf

As United cantered past AC Milan and into the Champions League quarter-finals last night, perhaps the most significant moment came when Beckham picked up the green and gold scarf as he left the pitch. The former Untied winger, whose populist touch remains undiluted even if his performances have tailed off with age, left the anti-Glazer campaign with an image that will spread globally.

Although Beckham later said that the club’s ownership was “nothing to do with him” there is little doubt about the player’s moment of solidarity with United supporters.

“I thought it was fantastic and an iconic moment,” Drasdo said of Beckham’s gesture.

“When he picked up the scarf a huge roar went up and there was a wave of excitement going around the place.

“Green and gold is having a really big impact – on the media, on sponsors and on the fans. It’s a fantastic idea and it’s really taken off.”

In an emotional night for the player, who left United for Real Madrid in 2003, Beckham played 27 minutes and forced a save from Edwin van der Sar in the home net after a stinging volley.

With a tear in the eye Beckham entered the field to huge cheers. He left it a bigger hero than ever.

Fergie ready for Milan, so is Becks

February 16, 2010 Tags: , , , Matches No comments

Sir Alex Ferguson is confident that United travel to face AC Milan in the Champions League this week fighting fit and in great form after an enforced rest this weekend. United’s players, given a couple of days off on FA Cup fourth round weekend, flew to Milan on Monday for a meeting with former Red Devil midfielder David Beckham.

“It’s a good time for us to be going to Milan,” claimed Ferguson, who watched Milan beat Udinese 3-2 on Friday night.

“They played this weekend, they’ve lost Kaká and have a few injuries, whereas we aren’t playing this weekend and we have had a good rest.

“They used Kaká at the head of a diamond and two front players but they have changed that and gone 4-3-3 with two wide players and three centre-midfield players.

“You have to recognise they are not short of skill and experience – Ronaldinho, Pato, all these players – but equally we have players who can win the match, too. After the experience in the San Siro three years ago, where they dominated the game, I know that won’t happen again.”

Ferguson is unlikely to face Beckham from the start, unless striker Alexandre Pato suffers a reaction to a thigh injury that has kept the youngster out since December. The striker was a goalscoring substitute against Udinese Friday night.

Beckham, the LA Galaxy midfielder on loan for the rest of the season, was again benched against Udinese and his brief contribution included a misplaced back-pass that almost gifted Udinese a goal.

“It’s Pato they are desperate to get back in,” Ferguson added of the youngster who has become the mainstay of the Milan attack.

“If he’s not back they’ll play David wide right. We know all about David, he’s a great crosser of the ball so we will have to be alive to that.”

Ferguson, who is without broken-arm victim Ryan Giggs for the San Siro match, is again likely to deploy Wayne Rooney as the lone frontman in a 4-3-3 formation. Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes will form an experienced midfield and Ferguson will pick two of three from Antonio Valencia, Nani and Park Ji-Sung in wide areas.

In defence Ferguson can call on Rio Ferdinand, suspended only for domestic fixtures, although Nemanja Vidic is again a doubt with a long-term trapped nerve. In any case, Ferguson is unlikely to field the pair together, with Jonny Evans in outstanding form.

“My players are used to big occasions and I think the good thing for us now is that we have hit form at just the right time,” added Ferguson.

“We will miss Giggsy, but we have players in great form and working really well. The improvement you see in players like Rooney, Nani and Valencia, who has done a great job for us since coming here, is fantastic and we have Fletcher and Carrick playing out of their skins.

“Scholes is playing well, too. I have players who are playing well at the right time.”

The focus though will be on Beckham as he meets United for the first time since the midfielder’s summer 2003 move to Real Madrid. Ferguson’s distaste for the “circus” that surrounds the player has mellowed little in the intervening years.

Becks: once a red, always a red

February 5, 2010 Tags: , Shorts 2 comments

David Beckham says that he’ll always be a Manchester United fan as the former Old Trafford star gets set to take on his old club in the Champions League this month. The midfielder, who is on loan at AC Milan for the rest of the season, still holds season tickets at Old Trafford and plans to return as a supporter once his playing days are over.

“I’ll certainly be back as a fan. I’ve still got season tickets and I’ll always keep them because I love to watch every game where possible and I’d love to take my sons one day,” the midfielder told Inside United magazine.

“United will always be such a special place to me, so we’ll just have to see what the future holds.”

Beckham, who said he almost cried when he saw the Champions League draw, is still contracted to LA Galaxy but will play in Milan in the build up to the World Cup in South Africa this summer. The midfielder has played five times since his return to the Italian club this season.

“It was just an unbelievable feeling to know I’d be going back, which is why I felt really emotional when the draw was made,” added the London-born midfielder.

“I met so many amazing people during my time there on and off the pitch that I’m very much looking forward to seeing everyone again. It’s the biggest club in the world and it’s one you always want to be a part of.”

“Coming to terms with not being a United player was very hard and certainly the toughest thing I’ve ever had to deal with. When you’re a Manchester United player and a Manchester United fan you never want to play for any other club.”