The great Beckham bungle

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David Beckham
David Beckham sits on the bench during the 2010 World Cup Group C soccer match against the U.S. in Rustenburg on June 12, 2010. Photo: Reuters / Dylan Martinez

First published on 13th August 2010.

Come off it, not even the most romantic England fan would say that our footballing destiny could still be shaped by David Beckham's right foot and no one would say it would be a surprise if he never took part in another competitive international match. But when it comes to all the brouhaha about him being discarded by Fabio Capello, that is not the point.

For once, neither David Beckham or his advisors, have courted publicity on this one. Again it all lands at the feet of the bungling manager Capello who, having been given a second chance, seems to be doing his best to get himself sacked.

Now Capello distrusts and dislikes the media. He doesn't understand their role and has no desire to understand. He doesn't read newspapers or watch television news which in the current 'open season' is probably just as well. Or is it? If he did he might get to realise how passionate this country is about its football. He might also begin to get that the way you treat your players does matter and can influence performances on the pitch.

To discard Beckham is fine but to do it on television, without a personal phone call first, is crass. Even after the interview he had two full days to head off any potential fall out. Two full days - one phone call to a footballing icon who'd just given up his entire summer to help out in South Africa, it's not that difficult is it?

So instead of talking about some new faces and a marginally improved performance after the Hungary game we are pawing over the latest Capello gaffe.

But it's not just Beckham. Capello seems to have little regard for any of the players in his squad.

He wanted Paul Scholes in the World Cup but couldn't be bothered to call him personally. He undermined his goalkeepers in South Africa by playing a waiting game as long as he could before the opening match - no doubt Robert Green's terrible mistake was partly down to the pressure that put him under. Then after the tournament debacle he dropped half the squad and hasn't yet explained to any of them why.

It must be a nightmare for the FA fire fighting his seemingly endless capacity to put his foot in it. Although whoever came up with the idea of giving David Beckham a starring role to say goodbye to the fans during a friendly at Wembley needs a good talking to.

Beckham had already stated he would never retire from international football before this half baked idea was concocted. It is patronising and quite insulting and I'm glad Beckham has turned the opportunity down. He's a professional sportsman for goodness sake not some ageing rock star, although I do accept the lines are occasionally blurred.

Anyhow if Capello continues his 'second chance' the way he's started it, who's to say that Beckham won't be wearing the three lions on his shirt longer than Capello is on his suit.