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David Beckham Will Not Be Going to South Africa

beckham and capello

Hello.  My name is Fabio Capello.  Over the past 18 months, I have been hailed as the savior of English football.  Under my stewardship, England easily qualified for the World Cup Finals next year in South Africa.  Granted, our qualifying group was fantastically weak, and in our friendlies against other big nations like Spain and Brazil we have come out second best, but no matter.  We are going to South Africa and I am taking with me the latest version of “England’s best team in a generation.”

Like all national team coaches, I know that once we land in South Africa, my job is mostly done.  My starting XI largely pick themselves, and while a few tactical decisions may impact a thing or two, by the time June rolls around, the cards will have been dealt and I will be trying to best play the hand I have got.  I know that my toughest job comes in April when I announce which 23 players will be boarding that plane to South Africa, and at the moment, I have a hard time figuring out how David Beckham is one of them.

All of England may be proclaiming the brilliance of my team, but I am not so convinced.  I know I have holes.  Rio Ferdinand looks shaky in the back, but he is a lot better than my third central defender, whoever that is.  Up front, Wayne Rooney is one of my strikers, but, this past weekend aside, is Jermaine Defoe really the best I have got for that other striker?  On the left side of my midfield, I have some good options, but no great ones.  However, the one place where I am thick with talent is the right side of the midfield.

Aaron Lennon is terrific.  Theo Walcott, who got me off to a great start in Croatia last year, is even better than Lennon when he is fit.  Shaun Wright-Philips is having the season we all knew he could have once he got out from his purgatory at Chelsea.  Do I have room on my 23 man squad for four right-sided mid fielders?  No way.  Is David Beckham going to beat out any of these three younger, faster, better players?

For most England fans, the thought of Beckham not being on the team is unimaginable.  But most England fans have not watched the tape of all of Beckham’s games with the Los Angeles Galaxy over the past four months.  I have.  Sure, he has had his moments.  He had a great game against Toronto FC a couple of months ago.  That pass to Landon Donovan in the second playoff game against Chivas was pretty sweet.  He had a couple of other moments that hearken back to his earlier days, but those flashes were far and few between.

Unlike most England fans, I am not just watching the highlights that end up on You Tube.  I am watching the whole game, and seeing how often he was stripped of the ball in the midfield, how he labored to get up and down the pitch in a normal game and how many of his passes were easily cut off by defenders that will all be watching the World Cup on TV next year.  I also saw that his dead ball skills are on the wane and how goalies I have never heard of easily gobble up those few balls that actually clear the wall.  Frankly, if he was on the England team, I cannot think of a scenario where he is my best option to send out on the pitch.

A few of the fellows have told me that they really like having him on the squad and that he is a positive influence in the dressing room.  Great, but experience is not in short supply on my team.  I have plenty of senior players who know how to inspire my younger guys, and my 23 slots are too valuable to give one away to someone who is just a good dinner companion.

To be honest, by April I don’t think that this decision will be controversial.  If the Beckham I have watched over the past four months is the Beckham that shows up next month in Milan, I fear he will be cooking himself for dinner for all to see.  Honestly, his body is wearing out.  He is at the age where a little knock takes weeks of recovery time.  In the MLS, you can spend some of that recovery time actually on the pitch making a contribution, but Serie A is no MLS.  The players are too skilled not to see any weakness and exploit it, and a healthy Beckham now has a lot of weaknesses.  A dinged up Beckham – well, he will be low-hanging fruit to rest of the teams in Italy.  It could be an ugly few months for Beckham in Milan.

I like David Beckham.  He showed me a lot of heart back in Madrid.  He is one of the main reasons why I have a La Liga medal at home.  But I am hard man.  Nostalgia does not mean much to me.  Players on the pitch who can help me win games are just about all I care about.  And given that, I can’t see taking Beckham to South Africa with me next summer.

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  1. Marvellous1

    December 30, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Some of the drivel here is amazing. If you care to check the stats, I would bet anyone here that Aaron Lennon has more assists than Beckham this season. In our qualifiers, England have scored more goals and qualified easier than at anytime Beckham was in the first team. More than 8 of the approx 34 goals have come from the right side of the pitch (even Wes Brown putting in a perfect cross for one goal). Walcott and Lennon gave performances against our main rivals (Croatia) that Beckham in his prime could only dream of. We haven’t missed him in the slightest. Also, someone please remind me of the time he “rescued” England against a top side when we were losing… The illusion that he “turns games” is just that, an illusion, based on a game over eight years old when he scored his 8th free kick attempt. He has scored 6 in over 100 games, which is hardly “deadly” considering he took every set piece for six solid years including direct free kicks. Landon Donovan was the MVP (rightfully so) for the Galaxy and Beckham’s last stint for Milan was a joke when facing the best teams (Inter, Roma and Bremen in Europe). Beckham was sa solid player for England in his prime but the more he became the focal point of our attack, the worse England fared (if you don’t beleive me, re-watch the dreaded game against N.Ireland where he was indulged in his “quarterback” role). The only use Beckham has is striding around for the last 5 minutes when the game is already won (by at least a 4 goal margin) or when the opposition is of Andorra standard where he can play his exhibition football. When there is serious opposition, his place is on the bench, which Capello seems to agree with. To be honest I’d have Milner there first, but I guess he doesn’t sell as many shirts. Spain finally had the guts to offload Raul (who is still class)and they won their first major tournament for years. If England have no chance without Beckham (despite playing better now with him on the sidelines) then we’re in bigger trouble than anyone knows.

  2. Sid

    December 10, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    Sorry to burst your bubble but a lot of Galaxy players are pretty stupid. Have you seen how they interact with Beckham…almost in confusion half the time? Now back up to the last loan spell at Milan. What did you notice differently? Milan as a whole played SMART. Most of the passes and plays Beckham made at Milan were realized. Here, there is an almost comical attempt at these same plays. Beckham is a SMART footballer! Lennon and Walcott are not. He can score from free kicks and his set plays (with the right people going forward) are brilliant. At the Galaxy, almost none of his teammates have even scored from his set plays or even corners… That is just sad.

  3. Dr RMA

    December 9, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Beckham may not be as fit as he used to be.
    He may not be able to play 90 minutes.
    He may be getting older.
    But it doesn’t matter, its not like he used to run past players when he was in his twenties. He is in any squad because he can pass a ball as well as any player, still. His free-kicks and corner taking ability is still phenominal. He is a presence on the team, he is experienced, captain or not he is a leader.
    He can win a game at any time. I am English through and through, David Beckham is David Beckham. Who remembers 2001 against Greece? Last kick of the game….free kick….score and England go to the World Cup….if not then we don’t….imagine the pressure? Beckham scores.
    Thats is what he can do. David Beckham isn’t of the calibre of Sean Wright Phillips or Lennon, David Beckham is English football. David Beckham goes to South Africa, full stop.

  4. Jorge Curioso

    November 29, 2009 at 1:22 am

    If Beckham is past it, why does A. C. Milan want him back so badly?

  5. Cam

    November 26, 2009 at 12:47 am

    If Becks doesn’t go to the World Cup, Capello clearly doesn’t want to win!! The world cup is NEVER about getting young players ready to play internationals, you choose your BEST players to play against the best…I find this article absolutely hilarious, to say “Players on the pitch who can help me win games are just about all I care about. And given that, I can’t see taking Beckham to South Africa with me next summer” is one of the blindest things said on this site…Beckham is a huge assett to ANY team, if its club or country. His experience over shadows most, his ability with the ball is still clean and crisp…stop commenting on subjects you obviously have no idea about

  6. Kartik Krishnaiyer

    November 25, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Unless injury strikes, Beckham has a 99.9% chance of being selected. Super sub potential for set piece goals, and dressing room leadership and mental toughness that england needs.

  7. tyduffy

    November 25, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Beckham is one of the few players in the world who can pull a goal out of his ass. That’s a valuable skill for any club to have, particularly in tournament play at international level. He’s going to the World Cup, and rightly.

  8. James

    November 25, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Haha your a fool! David Beckham is still the best crosser of a ball which, unless im wrong, is the main job of a winger. Sure, Walcott, Lennon and Wright-Phillips are quicker. But watching them try to cross a ball is comical. And when we are playing against a team such as Brazil for example, pace on its on own will not beat their full backs. Its gonna take some good crosses to rattle their defence and gain a goal. Step forward, David Beckham.

    • brn442

      November 25, 2009 at 2:37 pm

      Well said James, an accurate cross from Lennon/Wright comes as often as a New York Bus.

  9. brn442

    November 25, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    Does Becks deserve an automatic start in the England squad anymore? Of course not but as the Gaffer just said; when England run out of ideas as they usually do, Beckham coming on 60-70 mins+ is the biggest asset Capello may have in South Africa.

    He may not have the pace of Lennon or Walcott but he still has the sweetest right foot in world football.

    Another thing, I’m not going to do a silly, predictable World Soccer Daily type rant of the quality of Football in the MLS – yes it has improved but to judge him on his play in a League that’s way below what he’s ever played in is not fair, I’m surprised he can even gee himself up for some of the matches, and by his body language, it’s a struggle for him to do just that. Judge him on what he does with Milan next year.

  10. The Gaffer

    November 25, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Fabio/Eric, I disagree. I think Capello will take Beckham to the World Cup but will use him more as a super-sub to come on in games where England needs that something special from set-plays such as free kicks or corners. No player in this world can deliver balls as well as Beckham does, even today.

    Sure, he’s lost his speed but I would love for him to be included in the squad. This is a player, without a doubt, who can win games for England.

    The Gaffer

  11. BUR

    November 25, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    Lennon and Walcott-faster and younger….true….but much more stupid. Beckham understands the game better than any player on the field, which is especially useful in World Cup games. He will be on the squad, guaranteed. He has saved Capello one too many times before….study up. We will be watching either a healthy lennon or healthy walcott run crazy fast up and down the wing…..sending in balls to no one in far away places….watch previous games. Beckham will come on as a sub, but change the game completely by is attitude and presence alone….again watch previous games. He will create chances no one else can, regardless of age, speed, etc…..if he couldn’t do this, he is man enough not to try and position himself on the squad in the first place. Opinions are great, but watch games and performances….see you in South Africa Beckham…

    • Lennon

      November 25, 2009 at 12:39 pm

      My bias is incredibly clear based on my commenting handle, but I can assure you that Lennon has added the final ball to his game, a claim that Walcott cannot make. Watch just about any Spurs match from this season… fullbacks are equally terrified at the prospect of him putting in a cross from the wing or cutting infield. I don’t think it’s a particularly outlandish claim to say Lennon has staked his claim as the best winger in the Premier League this season, and he should be rewarded with a place in the starting XI in South Africa.

      • sam

        November 25, 2009 at 2:28 pm

        agreed, lennons ball,s in have been very good, and his threat to beat a guy and cut inside and score is something good ol goldenballs just cant do anymore

        • brn442

          November 25, 2009 at 2:34 pm

          Becks in his prime never had the pace to do so anyway but his crosses didn’t end up in Row Z

          • sam

            November 25, 2009 at 5:35 pm

            Lennons crosses now are just as good as becks are

          • Cam

            November 26, 2009 at 12:34 am

            ahhhh what??? Are you kidding sam?? Lennons crosses will never be as good as Becks ever….even when Becks is 60, lennon will never be as good!

  12. PhillySpur

    November 25, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Stu is correct. Most England fans see this as a ploy to get more caps and want to write him off to the past. There is no way that England will be able to match the class of the top countries with someone at Beckham’s level.

  13. Anonymous

    November 25, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Can’t win a World Cup without a good keeper? Can you remember who Brazil’s goalie was in 2002?

    • Jorge Curioso

      November 29, 2009 at 1:21 am

      Faulty memory is not a good proxy. Marcos had four shutouts and allowed only four goals in eight matches.

  14. Geoff

    November 25, 2009 at 10:18 am

    You also fail to mention England’s biggest problem – no world class keeper – and you can’t win a World Cup without a very good keeper.

  15. Martin

    November 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

    “Theo Walcott…is even better than Lennon when he is fit.”


    Wait, you were kidding there, right?

    With that and the anti-Defoe comment before that, I’d say you’re a tad biased.

  16. Johan Cruyff

    November 25, 2009 at 9:46 am

    losers. who cares what you all think. capello has led england to a lot of success. oh wait, why don’t we just stick to the beckham-axing steve mcclaren and let him handle england, eh?

  17. Stu

    November 25, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Most England fans? Even if we had no idea of the origins of this site, its pretty obvious from this article that you dont live in England. Most England watchers I know hate the fact that he is still picked for the squad, and for the obvious reasons:

    Hes 34 and we have Walcott and Lennon who need to develop in these less than important matches.
    Wright Phillips is great cover for the position. Lennon as first choice and Walcott/SWP fighting for second spot.
    Beckham is slow, not what he used to be and only really truly effective either from set pieces or when given the ball when already near the byline.

    I have not heard a majority opinion that Beckham shoul be in the squad. In fact, I’ve heard a large majority opion for the opposite…

  18. Matthew N

    November 25, 2009 at 7:35 am

    I disagree. Capello is not so short-sighted that he will ignore proven consistency and creativity for a few journeymen who seem to currently be in good form. Wright-Phillips has been unimpressive, especially against quality opponents… I haven’t had time to watch Lennon or Walcott as much, but I doubt they have the ability to create chances the way Beckham does. Yeah, he is getting old, but you have to remember he has been playing hurt for the last couple months.

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