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Hey Becks – Capello’s Just Not That Into You

Beckham looking up

So, David Beckham flew all the way from Los Angeles to London so he could sit on the bench for the friendly against Slovakia and play 10 minutes of garbage time once England had a four goal lead against Croatia.  He got a great view of how Shaun Wright Phillips did well against Slovakia and how Aaron Lennon completely tore up Croatia.  And as Beckham watched these games, luxuriating in the Wembley atmosphere, he must have realized something fairly shattering – he will not make the English World Cup squad this summer.  Both Phillips and Lennon are in line ahead of Beckham, and with Theo Walcott more than able to handle the position in case of a crisis, there is little reason for Coach Fabio Capello to bring three right sided mid fielders to South Africa. 

 How has Beckham fallen so far down the pecking order?  Chances are that Capello has seen the tapes of Beckham’s games with the Los Angeles Galaxy and has realized what Galaxy fans have noticed since his return from AC Milan – he simply has not played that well.   A week ago Saturday, the headlines from Los Angeles to London trumpeted his first Galaxy goal in over a year – a goal that existed in the netherworld between “great skill” and “great luck.”   Aside from that one moment, there has been little in his Galaxy performance to assure Capello that Beckham has what it takes to make a difference for the English squad.

Since he has returned from AC Milan (via a nice holiday in Sardinia) Beckham has played in six MLS games for the Galaxy.  Aside from his goal against Chivas, he has barely shot the ball (4 shots on goal during that stretch).  However, Beckham is more about service than scoring?  Sadly, he has tallied only one assist during that stretch, and that assist was a four yard pass to Landon Donovan at Kansas City, who then collected that ball, dribbled thirty yards and rifled it past Kevin Hartman from just outside the box.

All the stats aside, the simple fact is that Beckham’s quality of play has been poor, and had he not scored the goal against Chivas, that game would have been one of his worst for the Galaxy.  For most of the game, Beckham seemed intent on launching a series on long passes that had no chance getting to his intended targets.  His effort to find some non-existent seam in the Chivas defense to spring Mike Magee or Jovan Kirovski just wound up cheaply giving possession back to the Goats.  These long balls were occasionally interrupted with some highly comical referee haranguing.  This was especially true in the 55th minute when Chivas’ Paolo Nagamura handled the ball in the midfield and the referee missed the call.  Evidently Beckham thought it was a better use of his time to stand and scream at the referee rather than try to defend as Chivas raced past him to press their advantage.

This is in-line with Beckham’s overall attitude on the pitch since his return to the MLS.  The vitriolic reception he got when he first stepped out at the HDC in the July friendly against AC Milan seems to have shocked him, and he has appeared slightly unhinged at both his home games since.  Aside from the game against Chivas, his only other home MLS match was against Seattle on August 15 where his early red card ejection for a silly studs-up tackle against Peter Vagenas cost the Galaxy the game.  Oddly, the Galaxy’s best game since Beckham’s return was four days later in Chicago.  With Beckham forced to sit out, the Galaxy bossed the midfield, controlled the possession and easily beat the Fire 2-0.

Finally, the most baffling thing about Beckham’s entire MLS career is his inability to take a good free kick.  In the 72nd minute in his last game, Chivas fouled Kirovski eight yards outside the box in a perfect position for Beckham to drill one of his patented dead balls triumphs.  Instead, Beckham mis-struck the ball which bounded waist-high off the Chivas wall.  This result is no surprise to Galaxy fans.  In his entire Galaxy career, guess how many MLS goals Beckham has scored off of free kicks?  Zero.  Nada.  Zilch.  Aside from the friendly against Barcelona, Beckham’s only other free kick goal was against DC United in a Super Liga match in 2007.

So, while the world wonders whether Beckham will play for AC Milan, Spurs, or some other high flier come the new year, Fabio Capello and the Galaxy fans wonder whether they have already seen the best that Beckham has to offer.

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  1. tammy

    September 12, 2009 at 8:58 pm


  2. TripleRLtd

    September 11, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Oh, I get it now. You’re one of those LARS guys, right?

  3. Bolacuadrada

    September 11, 2009 at 9:45 am

    You are wrong. Your article is so way off that it is not even worth to explain.

  4. England Fan

    September 11, 2009 at 1:07 am


  5. Eric Altshule

    September 11, 2009 at 12:52 am

    You Beckham supporters are a touchy lot. In my article, 25% of it was Beckham’s worth to the English team (which I think is minimal, and we will see if Capello agrees with me in about six months). But 75% of it was about his play since he returned from Italy. I never questioned his character, wife, ulterior motives, called him a pretty boy, or anything else. I have simply said his play for the Galaxy has been poor, which if you have watched it over the past two months, is almost irrefutable. Perhaps he will move to Milan in January and suddenly light it up. However, if he performs for Milan the way he is performing for the Galaxy, he will spend the spring watching games from a comfortable seat at the San Siro, and the summer watching the World Cup from either one or two continents away.

  6. Sam

    September 11, 2009 at 12:30 am

    This article just smacks of someone who’s seriously butthurt over Becks coming here to the States and dissing the league. I’m not going to get into an argument about the relative strength of the MLS but yes, it’s a growing league (although the gulf in class and the recent TV ratings might have something different to say about that) but compared to the major league around the world it’s trash. I’m saying that as an American who loves the game and actually got my first taste of it in HS when our team went to Soldier Field for a Fire game.

    I hope the leagues continues to grow and actually becomes a force but the people that seem to wanna slag Becks off because he realized what everyone else in the world does about the MLS is silly.

    More importantly, why did you even bring this up? I understand that people can write opinion pieces but nobody had even been talking about Beckham at all. With the level of disdain your article seems to imply you have for him I’d imagine you just as well want to avoid having to think about or mention him at all costs.

    Clearly, as an MLS fan, and given that the game was on PPV, or other “channels” here in the States, you must’ve just read about the highlights on the internet, saw that he’d only gotten 10 minutes and got started on your little “let’s all laugh at the money-grubbing pretty boy” piece of journalism.

    I’m seriously just wondering where the hell that article came from. He’s come off the bench before for England in the recent past.

    We get it. You don’t like him. If he’d never come to the MLS to play at all and apparently disrespected the league, you wouldn’t even be talking about him. Even if he’d been having an average season at a big club over in Europe.

  7. Theodore

    September 10, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Thanks for not taking the fashionable route and bashing Becks to make people feel better about the TGI Fridays chain that stands in for our top division.

    Wait, maybe there was some of that here? Becks made a ginormous mistake coming over here to this league that can’t even reach a tiny proportion of the potential that is clearly out there.

    He does need to get back to where he once belonged.

  8. Becks diehard fan

    September 10, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    fuck off mf*** don’t speak a word about becks…u don’t have the right…

  9. Elaine

    September 10, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    This is such a shameful article. I am sorry, but this is EXACTLY why they criticized MLS as not being competitive enough and this is why Beckham, or any other world-class player needs to return to Europe to maintain/improve their level.

    Not until the people change about their attitude towards soccer, MLS can never improve its competitiveness because honestly, if a soccer critics think that bench players are useless and playing for 10 minutes is merely a broadway show, then I am sorry, you don’t even deserve to judge or criticize. In soccer, and sports, and in everything, all the players count and every second counts. Nothing is certain until the whistle is blown.

  10. Diane

    September 10, 2009 at 7:30 pm

    Capello knows everything he needs to know about Beckham. He’s coached him at both club and international level — both at times when he had to rebuild a team that was in bad shape. He’s spoken about what Beckham offers in terms of the skills he brings in general as well as the composure he’ll need from the more experienced players, particularly in closing down big games.
    Today, Capello added this at his press conference, “And Capello hinted that Beckham is a shoo-in for the final 23 as long as he stays fit, because of what he can give both on and off the pitch.

    Capello said: “We will have to wait and see what happens in the next few months.
    “But David Beckham is always with us because, for me, he is an important player.
    “He is good in the group, he is good at every moment in training. Some players are important for the position and morale of the group.”

    If there is one absolute truth here it is that of all the coaches in the world, Fabio Capello would be incapable of picking a player based on reputation. It doesn’t even enter his radar (see Michael Owen for just one current example). If Beckham or any other player is picked for one of Capello’s squads, it is because he has a specific use for them.

  11. Niall

    September 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Right so you say: ‘I may be a Dumb American, but I can tell the difference between a guy who uses his skill to earn a position and a guy who uses his reputation’. Well lets agree that Beckham has not been great in MLS, But every now and then he makes a perfect 40-50 pass, Puts in a great cross or sets up a goal from a free/corner kick. Which he has been doing, more than you seem to have noticed. These ‘skills’ alone are enough for him to get into the England team. This is because Wright-Phillips, Arron Lennon and Theo Wallcot are all similar players who like to take on players and use pace to get down the line. Beckham on the other hand, doesent have good pace. He never has because the type of player he is means he doesent need it. Basically what im saying is that Beckham has unique skills compared to anyone else fighting for a place on the right for England.

  12. jess

    September 10, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    please put money on it… so we can all laugh when you lose it ! this article was rediculous

  13. Eric Altshule

    September 10, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Fan of the Game and Naill-
    We will see, but I would put money on Beckham not making the team. He may have a great legacy with the English team, but as someone who, unlike my friends in England, watches Beckham play every week, I can tell you he is simply not good enough. There has been nothing in his play to indicate otherwise, and you cannot, with a straight face, tell me that if the game against Croatia was close, Beckham would have seen a minute of it. I may be a Dumb American, but I can tell the difference between a guy who uses his skill to earn a position and a guy who uses his reputation. Moreover, when push comes to shove, I predict Capello will be able to tell the difference too.

    Capello hardly needs Beckham for his leadership experience. Rio, Terry, Gerrard, Lampard and even Rooney have all played in World Cups, Euro Cups, Champions League Finals, FA Cup finals and all sorts of high-pressured environments. He has no need for additional experienced players. He has a great need for players who can generate goals and assists.

    Rafeal and Kicker –
    I stand corrected about the free kick goal against Real Salt Lake, but that is the exception that proves the rule. Over 30 games – 1 free kick goal.

    Jordan did come out of retirement after he left. He played for the Washington Wizards, and it was a blight on his career. As Wiki says, “However, neither of Jordan’s final two seasons resulted in a playoff appearance for the Wizards, and Jordan was often unsatisfied with the play of those around him.” Sound familiar to another player who wears 23? If Beckham goes back to Milan, as the news today is indicating, I predict bad things for him there. If he cannot keep possession and find angles against his MLS opponents, he is going to have an ugly time of it in Serie A.

  14. Geowar

    September 10, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Come on now beck’s still has a lot to offer do you watchEngland games? Are you just upset that MLS is still not at the level of Europe? Hate will eat you alive

    If Jordon came out of retirment after he left,not now would you say he had nothing to offer?

  15. Kicker

    September 10, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    Yeah, I could care less about Becks, but he has scored on a free kick, like Rafael said. I was at that game, it was @RSL and if my memory is right, he actually score both his goals that game on free kicks, but 1 may have been in the run of play as stated. The fact that it was an indirect free kick was a controversy at the time, since he took the kick and it went in without touching anyone else, and shouldn’t have been allowed. But it was, so we can safely say he’s scored on at least 1 free kick.

  16. Rex

    September 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Given, Ive only seen Beckham play a few times this year with the Galaxy, but I have thought he looks better this year than he did last. Maybe its just the team is better. I just dont think his play has been as bad as you make out.

  17. Niall

    September 10, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Only an American could come up with something this ridiculous. Nobody can expect Beckham to be first choice for England every game, he is 34 years old now and of course, he is past his best. However, Fabio Capello has always said he picks players on form, never reputation so obviously Beckhams doing something right. The reason Beckham WILL go to the world cup is because he has something different to offer from SWP, Lennon and Walcott who all rely on pace. Beckhams range of passing is unsurpassed by any of these players and his ability from a dead ball is invaluble. Also what your saying about his MLS form is untrue..since he went back to Galaxy the team have been on a winning streak and Beckham has been one of their most consistent players. The fact of the matter is, David Beckham is an England football legend. The most capped outfield player for england ever, captain for 58 of those games.

    * PFA Young Player of the Year: 1996/97
    * Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year: 1996/97
    * 1998 FIFA World Cup Team of the Tournament
    * UEFA Club Player of the Year: 1999
    * BBC Sports Personality of the Year: 2001
    * FIFA 100[109]
    * ESPY Award – Best Male Soccer Player: 2004[110]
    * ESPY Award – Best MLS Player: 2008[110]
    * English Football Hall of Fame: 2008

    Beckham has nothing to prove to anyone, especially not Dumb American Part-Time fans, who will never understand the legacy of one of the gratest footballers of all time..David Beckham

    • Andy

      September 10, 2009 at 1:50 pm

      Americans understand his legacy perfectly. LA was playing great before he came back. He doesn’t take our league seriously, and I’m talking about well before he was back on the English side, he was dogging it. It was even more obvious when I watched his Milan matches compared to his 2008 LA season. Just because he’s an English legend doesn’t mean LA fans should bow to him when he stinks it up. Blanco and Schelotto are both older than Beckham, but more influential and more respected because of the effort they put out. As an American do you know how hard it is to compliment Blanco? Yuck, but at least he plays like he cares. It has nothing to do with his legacy and everything to do with attitude and performance. And like you said, he will go to the cup, then he’ll be back in MLS shanking free kicks and collecting his pay check.

  18. Rafael

    September 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    David Beckham has scored a goal from a freekick in MLS. I remember that game. It came last year on 5/3/08 at Salt Lake. Beckham scored twice in that game for a 2-2 tie, the first from the run of play, and the second from a free kick.

  19. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    September 10, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    SWP is being tried as a right back replacement for Capello- He’s not a starter but serves a more vital role when a World Cup roles around. But Becks will be there for his leadership alone. Watching the US team without the leadership of Reyna or McBride, you see tough international savvy leaders are tough to find. Becks has played in four leagues on two continents while more English players have only played domestically. Their isn’t a chance Capello will leave him behind.

  20. Andy

    September 10, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Yeah don’t you EVER dare to CRITICIZE the amazing BECKHAM and mighty ENGLAND!!! How DARE you!!!
    Actually I do agree with Fan Of the Game, Beckham will be at the Cup because he is a ROLE player who is EXPERIENCED in BIG games and has a unique SKILLSET that a TACTICAL manager like Capello sees as USEFUL. If he wants to play at Milan for a few months I don’t care, but I can see why LA fans are upset. It’s amazing he hasn’t scored on a free kick, he’s had 30+ appearances and he takes all of them when he’s on the roster.

  21. Fan Of the Game

    September 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    Err..excuse me..but SWP did NOT even been listed on the bench against Croatia!! If you believe what you’ve said..Capello really like SWP so much that he didn’t even listed him as the substitute in one of the, if not THE most, important play for England in this WC Qualifiers! How CRAP is that view actually? It’s a LOT! The fact is that..and I don’t know what did you watch exactly to rate SWP so high..SWP played really CRAP against Slovenia – he was the one who CONSTANTLY LOST THE BALL to Slovenia, and almost always put England in dangerous situations when that happened..not to mention always lost the chances for England with his lack of intelligence and vision or refusal to cross the ball to his teammate when it needed to!

    The fact is..Lennon could well be England’s no.1 right winger right now along with Walcott..but Beckham is the only one who is CONSISTENTLY PERFORM for Capello and always will be the No.2 (even when BOTH Lennon and Walcott are available, Beckham WILL still be listed on the bench perhaps be no.2 in other positions, like when he replacing Lampard in the centre in the recent match (at Wembley))..and that’s why Capello played him/listed him on the bench ahead of SWP. And you MUST remember..that Capello only pick the BEST team to play for him in a match, ACCORDING to the opposition’s capabilities. And here comes the reason why he didn’t play Becks against Slovenia – it’s because it was JUST Slovenia for God sake..a team ranked 60-something on FIFA! Capello didn’t NEED Beckham to win games against teams like Slovenia..instead he NEED him to help CLOSE the game or win it against equal rivals or higher teams like Croatia, Spain, Holland, Chech Republic (when they were still a threat last year) and whether you like it or not..against better/equal teams in this next WC.

    You are NAIVE about the Capello, Beckham and the game as a whole if you already brushed Beckham off when he played as a substitute in an IMPORTANT, if not the most important, game of England’s WCQ. What SWP did for the whole game? He didn’t even DRESSED to play and sat BEHIND the bench with other unfortunate teammates for the whole game. That means Capello did NOT even consider SWP at all. Did you not see how the game was starting to open up after England’s 3rd goal, not to mention Croatia starting to look more dangerous leading up to and after their only goal in the match? And did you not see how Capello was all smile and happy when he let Beckham in? Because he knew that Beckham could of course help him close the game down. Clearly you didn’t understand what kind of manager/coach Capello is, and what kind of team England is..he didn’t like to leak goals even if it’s clear that he already won, and England always and very easy to lose focus after they thought they had won the game. That’s why he needed Becks to go in, and will be needed him in the next balance the level and momentum in team till the end and to change the game in favour of England.

    Well..I don’t need to explain more. If you really know the game, Capello, Beckham, England players and so will understand this easily.

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