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The Beckham Experiment Needs to End

All of us have had friends who are in a complicated relationship.  It may even have been us: the guy recently began dating a much more attractive woman who, while not a young bombshell, is still a gorgeous woman.  This woman recently ended an intense relationship but does not treat your friend like a rebound – she says all the right things when all your buddies meet up for drinks and she obviously cares for him.  They had a rough beginning – your friend had jealousy issues, she had to get used to your friend’s idiosyncrasies – but they seem to be going well together.  But you notice she likes to eye the bar a little too much, and seems to often stare off at other men, with that look in her eyes asking “what if”.  She knows your friend is the best fit for her, but can’t help wondering if she can relive the glory days with other, more glamorous guys like the one she used to date.

What would you tell your friend?  Wouldn’t you warn him about where this relationship is headed, if not tell him he should begin thinking about breaking it off before it gets too messy?

The Galaxy and David Beckham have reached that point.  After a few years of settling in and finding their grooves in their relationship, Beckham is again the center of transfer rumors to England.  This time it is a loan deal to Tottenham for a few months, to help Harry Redknapp’s team make a run at the title.  The Galaxy have patiently dealt with Beckham’s desire to play top-flight football, quietly conceding most of the 2010 season after he picked up an Achilles injury playing for AC Milan and uttering nary a protest when he speaks of his desire to play for the English national team again.  And it’s not like they have not benefited, having made tons of money off the Beckham name.  But it has to stop.

How many games has David Beckham, he of the $250 million contract, played for the LA Galaxy since the beginning of 2009?  16.  Just 16 (hat tip Steve Davis). It’s time for this experiment to end and for the Galaxy to make a permanent transfer of Beckham to an English team.

The LA Galaxy are poised to make a run at an elusive third MLS Cup.  If the club can sign Juan Pablo Angel and hold on to internationally coveted players like Edson Buddle and Omar Gonzalez, Bruce Arena has constructed the ultimate win-now team.  It has experience, fire power, and enough defense to win the MLS Cup.  Beckham is an important part of this, expected to play a solid midfield and do what he does best – scare the heck out of teams during corner kicks and free kicks.  But if Beckham leaves or, God forbid, gets hurt, where does that leave LA?  Experienced yes but missing a starter in the midfield.  It’s better for them to plan now and use his DP spot to get another midfielder.

We’ve seen this story before – David Beckham wanted to go on a short loan to AC Milan that basically turned into a two-year commitment and an injury.  Now, knowing that he has to keep in front of the English coaching staff’s vision to fulfill his dream of playing for England (again), there are these reports of a short-term loan to Tottenham.  What if he finds success coming off the bench?  What if Spurs are still in a title hunt in March?  They will certainly be in the hunt for a Champions League spot.  Will this time Team Beckham reject a longer loan and come back to LA?

I remember watching the LA Galaxy dominate the Seattle Sounders (sorry Seattle fans) in the second leg of this year’s playoffs.  Beckham was starting and played maybe his best game of the past two years.  He was flying all over the pitch, helping thwart the Sounder’s attack and serving as a conduit to the Galaxy attack.  This was the Beckham MLS and LA fans have wanted to see since “the Beckham rule” went into effect, and it has been a rare treat these past few years.  A loan spell could guarantee they may not see that again this year, and because of that it is time to finally cut the cord.  MLS and the Galaxy deserve better.

14 Responses to The Beckham Experiment Needs to End

  1. Charles says:

    Great opinion piece.
    The jerseys he was going to sell have been sold.
    The ticket and TV revenue is marginal.

    So now when you look at the playing side of things, he brings negatives with those passing positives. And lets face it, he won that second game of the playoff series against Seattle. But in game one, he couldn’t do anything. What about against a more athletic team ? They were done in the next round of the playoffs.

    I didn’t check, but LA had to have a better record without him, than with him. So what is LA keeping him for ? To honor a contract he would rather not honor. How much sense does that make ? None.

    ps. I love how the Galaxy fan’s are pissed. The Ljungberg situation in Seattle was similar. You feel like we have a real league developing here.

    • Robert Hay says:

      Your comment leads to a good thought Charles – can LA expect David Beckham to attract money and viewers now (i.e. sell a ton of jerseys and attract casual fans) or has Landon Donovan become THE person to see on the Galaxy? Does LA’s bottom line suffer if Beckham goes?

      I think you can reasonably argue no.

      • Charles says:

        Obviously I agree with you.

        So now the questions is can the other Ex-EuroHero do what Beckham can’t. They are a dime a dozen now. One a day announcing they want to come here.
        On jerseys sales, maybe yes….maybe. On the others revenue sources, no way.

        I guess I shouldn’t say no way, there is a buzz in NY now after adding Henry, but most of these guys are not Henry in popularity/familiarity.

        So can they do it on the field…and can they do it on the field with less because they take up so much salary cap. The Sounders and the other teams with means are WAY better off signing GenAd talent right now. Equivilant talent ( oh no I just committed blasphame ) or better ( in the case of Ljungberg and other flops…committed it twice ), but no salary cap hit and less total salary.

        I would be interested in others opinions who don’t commit blasphame. ;-)

  2. Manuel says:

    I completely agree. He really came in handy at the end of the year but to request another loan before the start of his last season with the Galaxy is ridiculous. LA needs to let him go and find another DP to fill his spot. I honestly think that another debacle will ensue just like the AC Milan debacle several year’s ago with Beckham staying till the end of the May and not playing a game for LA till July. What a selfish A-hole!

  3. Dave C says:

    I agree LA Galaxy should probably get rid… I can’t imagine the increased ticket sales he creates can still justify his salary. On the other hand, if they do plan to keep him, they should block any loan move.

    The idea of him finding a European club on a permanent basis might be a harder than you would expect though. A lot of clubs might like to take him on a short-term loan, because it would be the Galaxy who would suffer the consequences of any long term injury. On a long term deal though, the risk would fall on the shoulders of his new team, so the idea might not be as attractive.

  4. Joe says:

    I really don’t think a major European team with any sense would take a real chance on Beckham, i.e. buying his contract. Maybe you remember the second leg against the Sounders, but I remember the conference championship against FC Dallas. Time and again, Galaxy would work it past midfield only for Beckham (and later in the game, Maggee and even Buddle) to hoof forward a long, bending ball that would go to absolutely no one in particular. These long aimless kicks killed Galaxy’s flow in that game, plain and simple.

    Beckham is a set piece specialist and that’s about it at this point. He’s worth maybe 15-20 minutes every couple of weeks in the Premier League. And no team is going to purchase his expensive contract for that little gain.

  5. Lucky Luciano says:

    Beckham’s contract wouldn’t be expensive by EPL standards – so money wouldn’t be an issue if it came to a full-time move.

    Nor would transfer fee if Galaxy decided to release him. They got him as a free agent in any case, so they wouldn’t be losing out in that respect.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Galaxy were actually thinking along these lines – their silence has been deafening while these stories have been popping up everywhere.

    The only reason Beckham would not want a move to EPL would be the fact that he appears to have plans to move into MLS ownership/management, possibly with the second New York franchise (Cosmos?).

  6. Eric says:

    I think it’s important to note that Redknapp threatened to pull the offer off the table if the Galaxy doesn’t respond to it soon enough – the way the schedules are set up, Beckham would only be available for a maximum of something like 14 matches before he would have to return for the start of the MLS season, though to be fair on that point Tottenham’s use for him would generally be the same as the Galaxy’s use for him – selling jerseys.

    The other teams that have expressed interest are scrubs like Blackburn Rovers (who already have a setpiece specialist in that Norwegian guy, Gamst Pedersen), and I get the impression those teams are only making bids for him to show they can, domestically (see: Blackburn also making a bid for Ronaldhino) which in turn suggests that no one (even the lower level teams) would want him to stay around for any longer than what a loan period would dictate.

    All in all it seems likely to me that Galaxy are stuck with him, and I think the real problem is Beckham’s attitude about that, the dude needs to learn to count his blessings where he is right now.

    • hmmm says:

      Why would Beckham go to Tottenham at all? He’s an adidas guy and they’re Puma.

      No way his handlers at adidas let him go to Spurs to sell all that Puma merchandise. They’d probably rather he go to a Nike team than a Puma one.

  7. Joe says:

    I think Beckham is just suffering from a case of Brett Favreitis. He can’t accept the fact that his talents aren’t what they used to be, and instead of declining gracefully he’s decided to stay in the public mind the only way a player in decline can – by being a massive douche.

    *I officially retract that remark after he gets his first set piece assist for Spurs. COYS.

  8. Charles says:

    We already saw this with Ljungberg…this isn’t the NASL where Pele can still be one of the best players in the league. In fact sometimes the DPs down right stink in MLS.
    Beckham hasn’t stunk, but he hasn’t been worth $5 million more than the good/great players.
    As expected ( and the reason I would bench him ):

    Success on the pitch

    The Galaxy missed the play-offs in Beckham’s first two years but reached the MLS Cup in 2009 and the Western Conference final in 2010. The club also picked up the Supporters’ Shield this year. But Beckham was not on the pitch for long enough to influence that success. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Galaxy have a marginally lower winning percentage with Beckham in the team than they do without him: although the Galaxy scored 1.69 goals per game with Beckham and 1.27 without him, his presence also seemed to coincide with far more goals conceded – 1.73 per game, as opposed to 1.12 without him.

    (I don’t have link because of the way I am accessing the story, sorry )

  9. Mike says:

    I understand that Beckham wants to go back to his home country and finish his career making a championship run in front of his countrymen, what player wouldn’t. The MLS has to let him go, not for Beckham but for MLS. What does it say to other international stars that we are going trap them wants they get here. The Galaxy doesn’t need Beckham to win, MLS doesn’t need him to get noticed (a real TV contract, or buying ads would do much better justice in getting notoriety) let the man go, bring on Ronaldino, or buy a top notch player in his prime. MLS needs to stop playing he said she said games with Beckham and concentrate on getting a real television contract, one that will see teams matches televised in there region week after week, one that won’t just play the random match and allow the American sports fan to actually follow a team, gaining more fans and revenue, allowing for more DP’s or a raise in salary cap bringing more talent to the MLS. The casual fan will never pay for Direct Kick and alot of fans simply can’t afford it so don’t follow MLS. Matches are rarely played in sports bars, it seems MLS just doesn’t want to grow. With out a TV contract MLS will soon be at it’s ceiling. And if they switch to a winter schedule, they’ll be buried behind basketball, football, hockey and the Euro Leagues. If MLS keeps playing games with their international stars and slacking on getting more matches televised they are doomed to fail, I would love to see new leadership in MLS, someone that recognizes the MLS Audience and the American Sports fan.

  10. Chris says:

    Here’s a quick, very brief summary of the impact of Beckham on the Galaxy and MLS, in case you’re interested:

    http://soccerbythenumbers.blogspot.com/2011/01/becks-by-numbers-quantifying-beckham.html

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