Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Counterpoint: Beckham should not be captain for the Switzerland friendly

Less modeling, more getting back to form, please

Ahh yes, Mr. Beckham. The English golden child of the past decade, creating heroism with his boots and leaving bitter, defeated foes in his wake. Almost. The big furore at the moment is over the role Beckham should play in the England squad moving forward, and whether or not Capello should grant him the joy and happiness of getting his 100th cap immediately, even going so far as to make him captain for the game.

My short answer, to this lovey-dovey, Disney-esque scenario, is this: no fucking way.

Fabio Capello, whether he's aware of it or not, has waltzed into an important job, with the task of curating the National side through a tricky era in an already-sketchy history. We invented the game, and yet constantly find ourselves on the end of a pasting: either it's the silky flair of the South Americans, the ruthless efficiency of the Germans, or the trickery and guile of the Mediterranean nations. Capello has to turn that ship around with a fresh pair of eyes and a new way of thinking.

See? Behind those glasses does lie a pair of balls

England's in the midst of a difficult transition, with a lot of its most experienced players reaching the twilight of their careers, with the rest suffering injury after injury. Thanks to the narrow-mindedness of the last two managers, no contingency plans were ever made, and no plans were made for the inevitable retirement or decline in form of all these 30-somethings. It's been left to Capello to find new players from somewhere, break 'em in, and bring England back to winning ways.

Beckham, in my mind, represents the Old Guard. As soon as Capello took over, Beckham rushed to the media with platitudes and kind words for Fabio, singing for his supper and beginning his own public campaign to keep his international career going. If Capello falls for it, he's a fucking idiot.

Yes, it's a friendly, and yes, it's a long time before the next World Cup and Euro qualifiers, but fuck, this is THE time to start auditioning new blood! Don't kowtow to players dictating their own destiny! Take the squad into your own hands and assert yourself from the get-go, because Capello's going to need all the time he can get to find young English players and forge them for the stress and spotlight of national football.

If Beckham's honest, he doesn't deserve to play for England right now, at least if we're deciding these things on a merit basis. He moved to the US for nothing but money, and he hasn't played in a meaningful game in months [training with Arsenal doesn't count, and really, aren't the LA Galaxy mad to do so?]

To add fuel to the fire, general opinion wants him to be captain. Why? He barely deserves a spot on the bench, let alone the muted glory of being skipper for his 100th game. Yes, it's poetic and cute, but fuck poetry, and fuck cuteness. The majority of his run in an England uniform has been mediocre at best, and while he's had several memorable moments [I do love him for the free kick against Greece], he's had several bad ones too [I hate him for the kick on Diego Simeone and the resulting red card in the 1998 World Cup 2nd round].


I feel that the reason he's even gotten to 99 caps is because we've had a string of managers who didn't have a fucking clue [Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Keegan, Eriksson, McClaren... anyone care to argue?]. His skill suffered greatly once he skipped out of the country to ply his trade elsewhere, but he maintained his place for the last 3 years or so because of the lack of imagination in squad selection.

There are only 4 players to reach 100 caps for England, as Spectator pointed out, and Beckham's right there on the cusp. Bryan Robson made it to 90 caps. Michael Owen, for all his injuries, made it to 88 [scoring 40 goals in the process!]. Gary fucking Lineker only made it to 80. The list of players stuck in the 70s is insane: Stuart Pearce, John Barnes, Terry Butcher, David Seaman, Gordon Banks!

If Lineker didn't make it, Beckham certainly shouldn't with such ease

If they didn't get there, Beckham should thank his lucky fucking stars that he's on the cusp as the product of brand name and poor managing over the last 4 years when his selection certainly wasn't on merit.

And now we're here, and Beckham wants the armband and wants the spotlight, because up to this point in his career, he's gotten everything he ever wanted.

I say no, David. Forget what you did for us 4 years ago and let's look at what you did for us lately [Croatia]. You've got to earn it, lad, and not simply because you've gotten this far and then you've said a lot of things in the media about what a good guy you are. That isn't earning anything, mate.

I'm not saying he shouldn't get that cap eventually, but not now.

Work hard, keep your mouth shut, and you'll get there eventually.

This is Capello's moment in the spotlight.

This is his team now, not yours. Remember that.

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