England Manager Fabio Capello has played a critical role in pushing David Beckham towards Serie A club AC Milan and away from the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer. This is particularly disheartening because Capello, who managed Beckham at AC Milan for a time did not seem to mind Beckham playing in MLS during England’s early World Cup qualifiers.
Capello’s England predecessor Steve McLaren had no problem recalling Beckham despite continued assaults on the standard of play in MLS by the British media. How did McLaren know Beckham wasn’t regressing by playing in MLS? He actually took the time to fly to Washington DC and see Beckham play against DC United.
McLaren was preceded as England manager by Sven Goran Eriksson who in his current job leading Mexico attended several matches involving MLS sides to scout players. Eriksson, a cosmopolitan flavored manager will never shut any door as we chronicled in an earlier piece today when we discussed his willingness to use naturalized players in key positions for Mexico.
But Capello, the hard charging Italian who has been successful at the club level but has never previously managed at the international level. It cannot be forgotten that Capello has twice previously managed AC Milan and rather than broadening his horizons as Eriksson did, is simply more comfortable with players who play in Italy and specifically with Milan or Juventus, the two clubs he managed and is still well regarded. (Capello is far from universally loved among Roma fans despite being very successful there.)
I also find the tact towards Beckham hypocritical in the English press. Numerous columnists have basically called Beckham a hero for trying to prolong his international career at 34 because it will benefit England’s hopes of winning a World Cup in 2010. But some of these very same columnists just four months ago sided with then Sunderland Manager Roy Keane ( a former team mate of Beckham’s) against another former Beckham teammate and close friend Dwight Yorke who was 35 at the time. Keane said that at Yorke’s age he should not be pursuing an international career any longer, and most in the British media that wrote about the subject agreed.
So if the captain of Trinidad and Tobago who happens to be the greatest player ever produced by the nation wants to help his country qualify for the World Cup at an advanced age it’s a problem. But if a Englishman, the former captain of his national team whose not really needed for the Three Lions to qualify and whose presence may or may not help England in 2010 wants to prolong his international career by engaging in unprofessional actions towards the club which owns his rights, it is to be commended?