August 12, 2006

Beckham's international exit was, I'm afraid, inevitable

My first thoughts on recent happenings will not concern the foiling of a potential mass terrorist atrocity, or the Israel–Lebanon conflict, but something much more pertinent…the end of David Beckham's international football career.
Although my interest in football compared to cricket and rugby league has declined since Leeds were relegated and Chelski began to buy/win the Premiership, I still feel McClaren's decision to finally drop Beckham is enough of a sporting landmark to merit an entry here.
I should point out that it is entirely the correct decision. DB's performances in the World Cup were nothing short of embarassing, and he seems to be resting on the laurels given to him after the Greece game five years ago.
When you think that Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright–Phillips, even Steven Gerrard can do a better job on the right, the old argument of DB being 'the best dead–ball specialist in the modern game' starts to become irksome. The guy can't tackle, can't dribble and is 31. McClaren has to form a long–term plan leading not up to 2008, but at least to South Africa in 2010, and it is only right that DB is out of the squad completely.
However, before I completely declare my undying support for McClaren, he cannot get away scot–free. He was assistant to Eriksson for almost all of his tenure, and so therefore must have either agreed with the Swede's blind support for Goldenballs or else have been too weak to raise any objections. Either way, the FA's decision to choose him to manage the national team seems a bit poor, especially when they could have landed Scholari, Hiddink or O'Neill if they had a bit more PR tact.
The appointment of Venables also seems bizarre. I'm sorry but I don't really rate him as a coach. OK, he won the FA Cup with Tottenham, but what else? He got to the semi–finals of Euro 96 ON HOME SOIL, but save for one great performance against Holland, England were decidedly average, with poor performances against Spain and Switzerland and typically gutsy, but tactically naive displays against Scotland and Germany.
Since then, he has failed to take Australia to the World Cup, almost relegated Middlesbrough, under–perfomed with Crystal Palace, and I'm not going into what he did with Leeds! The cheeky Cockney personna doesn't wash with me I'm afraid, and I fear he will be too much of personality within the England set up. Steve McClaren will have his work cut out in the months to come persuading the press and the players that HE is in charge.
I suppose the first acid test is on Wednesday, when we play the 'European Champions'.... stop sniggering at the back!
Oh well, it could be worse, I could be an athletics fan….

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