Thursday, 4 December 2008

Why The Beckham Circus Must Go On

This weekend, David Beckham was unveiled as an AC Milan player during the Rossoneri's 5-1 home victory over Udinese. While it is yet another example of Brand Beckham embarking on a new project, as the boy from Leytonstone further cements his status as a global icon, the move is essential for Beckham the player. The star will be looking to regain his match-fitness and prove to Fabio Capello he is worthy of a place in the next England squad for the qualifier against Ukraine. If selected, he will pick up his 108th cap and in doing so equal Bobby Moore's outfield record.

Much has been said and written regarding Beckham's unerring quest to continue to represent his country. There are some claiming his desire to clock up as many caps as possible is to reach yet another milestone, to add a further achievement and celebrity, and that his selection by Capello in recent qualifiers has been purely for sentimental reasons. But why should he give up his dream of representing his country? His services to our nation, both on and off the field, not to mention his truly amicable charity work, places Beckham in a category that few can be associated with. He is a great and as long as he is fit and playing well in Milan, surely he deserves to oust Moore whilst there is the opportunity to do so.

But is this the right thing to do? It may be for humanitarian reasons, but is it the best thing for England? There is no doubting that very few can strike the ball as good as Beckham, and certainly there are few better who can deliver a cross with as much menace and accuracy. However, Capello's decision to play him eight times, and more recently as a cameo substitute, could be called in for scrutiny. There are plenty of talented young right-sided players waiting in the wings (no pun intended). Theo Walcott, David Bentley, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Aaron Lennon, James Milner and Ashley Young will all be looking to replace the monopoly Beckham occupies on the right flank long-term.

It will certainly be interesting to see whether a fully fit Beckham is chosen in April ahead of these talented Premier League players. Certainly Walcott has done enough recently to deserve his selection. However, with the young Arsenal man suffering with a dislocation of the shoulder, it looks as though it will be a fight between Beckham and the remaining candidates for the number 7 shirt. Bentley is only just beginning to find form at Whit Hart Lane since his big money move from Blackburn, as is Lennon; and the two certainly look like they are much more comfortable under Harry Redknapp than Juande Ramos. Wright-Phillips has always flattered to deceive in an England shirt, Milner must cement himself in the Villa line-up first and Young, whilst impressing recently for the Villans, is still a work in progress. Come April, if Beckham's move to Milan is proving to be a success, I know who my money will be on to fill in on that right hand side.

Although Beckham has had his fair share of criticism during his career, he has always managed to rise above it. Rebbecca whose? France 98 saw him become one of England's most despised individuals. He responded by helping United win an unprecedented treble the following season, and the next year saw him appointed England captain by the stand-in manager Peter Taylor for a friendly in Italy. He has since shone in Madrid, and despite the America adventure not entirely going to plan, he has certainly boosted the profile of 'soccer' across the pond and will continue to do so whilst out there.

David Beckham is all set for his next challenge, and while his people will be looking to ensure the Italian job runs smoothly, the pretenders will be waiting in the wings. Perhaps Trademark Theo, Product Shaun, Label Lennon or even Variety Young may be the next marketing schemes to tackle to global market. But for now, the Beckham circus must go on. Golden Balls for 108? For now, it is a nobrainer and, more crucially for Brand Beckham, a certainty.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate the legacy of Brand Beckham. In fact more than most given his stellar career at the Theatre of Dreams. However, I think it may be time for a fresh marketing scheme...perhaps Trademark Theo, Product Shaun or even Label Lennon and Variety Young.

Please forgive my weak efforts at keeping the 'brand' context but my argument is that at this time and with a man like Capello at the helm I just can't see how much of a role Beckham can still provide.

A work in progress - how you describe Ashley Young's embryonic International career would also be fitting to the National team the Italian is trying to build.

At every team he has managed - albeit only club teams in the past - he has found the players to fit the mould. He has not attempted to put square players in round positions if you follow. He has organised our best starting eleven of late with speed and acceleration down the wings, a solid foundation through the middle and a Heskey-shaped-foil for Rooney, Lampard and Gerrard (occasionally) to do what they do best.

This has undone teams so far in qualifying and terrified teams afraid of being caught on the counter attack. Furthermore, the lesser teams that put 10 men behind the ball have been undone by having wide men that can get in behind the back four with their pace.

And now with qualifying almost assured I can only see Capello looking to strengthen this strategy by blooding the right-sided speedsters of Walcott, Wright-Phillips etc rather than sabotage this formula with Beckham's style or even Bentley who is in the Beckham mould. Admittedly I can see there being place in the squad for such a wise head as Beckham's but perhaps not in or too close to the starting line-up.

It is sad for Beckham, not so much for Brand Beckham. That will always have a footing in the global market. Nonetheless, it is the only right choice for the unsentimental, ruthless, and winning mentality of the man in charge if we are going to make a big enough impact in South Africa.

Nevertheless, you make a good case for the Beckham brand - maybe they'll draft you into their PR team...New Zealand could be nice this time of year.

Sam Rider

Groundsy said...

It's a good job I'm heading to NZ soon!
Certainly long(er) term I see the likes of Young and especially Walcott comming in to dominate the right hand side. This is without question. In terms of South Africa, I do not envisage Beckham holding down a first team role, but I would not say no to him being in the squad.

I think the main message of the article is that he deserves to equal and surpass the record currently occupied by Bobby Moore. His commitment to England has been such over the years (twelve if my maths serves me correct!) that he deserves to pick up such and accolade. But then, I hear you say, comes the argument of Beckham only being selected for sentimental values and this could come at the detriment of the England team. I hear you! However, I see Beckham getting fit in time for the Ukraine in April - following his success in Milan - and therfore a fully fit and inform Beckham WILL make the squad, especially with Walcotts absence.

In terms of Trademark Theo, Label Lennon et al., I think they all have a great deal to work on, both on and off the pitch, before they even come close to Becks. If being honest, I do not feel the off-field circus that surrounds Beckham has done him any favours; some may say it spelt the end for him at the Theatre of Dreams. However, he has achieved a great deal footballing wise, and he has certainly not let it affect him as he may have done, or as it may have affected others. Put it this way, if Bentley ever reached a similar off-field status as Becks, it would be game over for his already dubious footballing career.

Beckham for 108, and South Africa 2010 - but only if he is fit and in form...

Uk Football Finder said...

good article. The Beckham brand has revolutionized football as we know it. George Best may have been the original rock n roll footballer but Becks was the first global footballer with a brand...