Archive for the ‘David Beckham’ Category

Beckham: Just Let Him Go

January 27, 2009

I’ve been wondering when (depite the drumbeat of reports from Europe) people back home would finally realize that David Beckham really wants to stay in Milan. Now it seems they are waking up to it and none too happy.

Perhaps it was too much to load onto one man’s shoulders -to popularize the game in a vast nation of 300 million people. Perhaps MLS and others close to the league lost some perspective in overplaying Beckham’s star power. One popular media outlet even had a special “Beckham Watch” feature on its web page which just looks strange when you consider that even at the height of Michael Jordan’s dominance of the NBA, you would never see such a thing.

For Beckham himself, its obvious that he still dreams of playing at the highest levels and his aspirations to earn England some silverware remain unfulfilled. Perhaps he went for the big paycheck in LA but then did some soul searching and remembered that he had some unfinished business. He obviously believes he can’t achieve those goals by playing in MLS or he would not have gone to Milan with the intent to seek a longer term stay.

I truly believe cutting Beckham loose will allow the league and its fans to focus on the fundamentals; attractive, compelling soccer featuring exciting young players who want to be there. Cutting Beckham loose will allow the spotlight to shine where it should; on exciting young players like Kenny Cooper, the dean of US keepers – Kasey Keller, or the return of “Big Cat” Tony Sanneh.

For LA fans who were hoping for a turnaround under new coach Bruce Arena, the realization that they stand to lose Beckham and perhaps Landon Donovan (to Bayern Munich) this year may be too much to bear. The league would do to take some of the money they’ll save on Beckham’s massive salary and bring home DaMarcus Beasley, buy a few quality foreign players, while paying rookies enough so they won’t need to live in their cars.

Still, its a shame that AC Milan couldn’t at least have a dialogue on this with the LA Galaxy, instead of communicating to them indirectly through the press – something that happens all too often in Europe these days. Arena seems none too amused in remarking to the LA press that “I’m not sure it’s appropriate for club officials at the biggest clubs in the world to make comments without having made contact with us. If I had a player on loan then I wouldn’t be talking about acquiring him unless I had spoken to the club.”

Here in Bella Italia, Danny Szetela played the final seven minutes last night in Brescia’s 0-0 draw with Sassuuolo. Brescia is now third in Serie B with 38 points, just one behind second place Livorno and two behind leaders Bari.

Beckham Wants To Stay In Milan

January 23, 2009

So, I started out this sunny Napoli morning as usual; with a cup of coffee and a copy of La Gazzetta dello Sport, and there on the front page was the headline: Beckham Forever: He’s fallen in Love With Milan and Doesn’t Want To Return To The USA.

Of course sensational headlines are the norm over here so I had to turn to the three page spread on this topic (that’s right, three pages) to find out how much substance there was to it. After all, the only other real news they could talk about was last night’s Copa Italia snoozer between Lazio and Torino (especially now that the Kaka transfer spasm is over).

In between snippets of how Beckham is taking Italian lessons must be an indicator he wants to stay (nevermind that understanding his teammates may be the reason) , there were some indications that AC Milan may indeed want to keep him. Club administrator Adriano Galliani made it clear that they see Beckham first as a player, claiming he is “not just a beauty figure.”

Rossoneri coach Carlo Ancelotti has been starting Beckham in the team’s two league matches so far this year where he has proven he still has the pace, touch, and vision to contribute to the side.

And not only the print media but also Italian television today seems filled with Beckham-mania, with unattributed reports that Beckham is willing to take a pay cut (from his cushy deal with MLS and the LA Galaxy) in order to play for Milan and increase his chances of playing in the 2010 World Cup. Its all laughably ironic because Beckham is the only player for whom a move from MLS to Europe would mean a pay cut (OK, that may apply to one other Galaxy player).

Beckham’s loan deal ends in March and his deal with MLS lasts until 2011. He does however have a clause in his contract which would allow him to move elsewhere during the 2010 winter transfer window of 2010 but by then he may be too old, at almost 35.

And while Beckham may be falling in love with Milan, he is also winning fans over both on and off the field. Most recently, he won praise for visiting former AC Milan striker Stefano Borgonovo yesterday at his home. Borgonovo is suffering from the paralyzing illness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and the team stays in close contact with him. Remarking on Beckham’s visit, Ancelotti told Gazzetta that “David has a golden heart.”

The question remains however, whether Beckham still has a heart for LA and whether new coach Bruce Arena can count on his return at the end of March (along with Landon Donovan, currently on loan to Bayern Munich).

During a time of economic downturn, it may not be a bad move for MLS to unload his massive salary bill, so long as they reinvest some of it in exciting young players who can capture fans’ imagination. I’d be happy to see Beckham move on if it improves the league’s balance sheet and allows them to bring DaMarcus Beasley back home, keep Donovan in the league, pick up a few youngsters from Boca Juniors and Independiente, and start to pay rookies more than garbage collectors.

Copyright Chris Courtney 2008

Forget Beckham, Watch The Brazilians

January 10, 2009

It seems much of the English speaking soccer world is working itself up into a lather over whether the ageing David Beckham will play for AC Milan on Sunday against AS Roma. Beckham, on loan from the LA Galaxy, sought out the loan to stay sharp in order to stay in England manager Fabio Capello’s future plans.

The real story behind tomorrow’s match in the Stadio Olimpico is not Beckham but the chance to see a large portion of the Brazlian national player pool on the field at one time with 13 of them suiting up for the match. Add that to a mix of top talent from Italy and elsewhere and you’re in for some attractive attacking soccer. If he sees the field, Becks better have his wheels on, lest he be left in the dust.

On the AC Milan side, you could see Dida in goal, Kaka and Emerson in midfield, with Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato up front in the attack (all served by Italy’s “Brazilian” Andrea Pirlo).

With a whopping eight Brazilians in the lineup, AS Roma features an all-Brazilian goalkeeping corps of Doni, Julio Sergio, and Arthur. The defense is anchored by Juan and Cicinho with the recently-recovered Taddei and Filipe in midfield plus possibly Julio Baptista up top at forward.

Both teams need a win as Milan is sitting in third place on 33 points and needs to secure at least an automatic Champions League spot.

10th place Roma, with 23 points, has struggled with consistency this year. Now, with their talisman Francesco Totti out with a hamstring injury for at least the next month, they’ll need to dig deep to top Milan tomorrow. The Rossoneri will need to overcome a road losing streak that has not seen them win away from home since a 1-0 win over Atalanta on October 26th.

But Roma is always tough to beat at home, having lost only once this season. Plus, with Milan missing mainstays defender Alessandro Nesta and defensive midfielder Gennaro Gattuso, I’ve got to give the edge to the Giallarossi.

(Full disclosure: I’m a former resident of a Roma neighborhood in Rome and my friends would beat me senseless if I predicted any other outcome).

Don’t have the game on TV? Follow along here.

Beckham Loan To Milan: Find A Comfy Spot On The Bench

October 24, 2008

OK, so the LA Galaxy will loan David Beckham to AC Milan so he can stay fit for duty with England’s team as they aim for World Cup qualification. After watching him spend so much time wither injured or back in England, I’ll be the Galaxy management are glad that Silvio Berlusconi will be picking up his salary tab for a few months.

Still, its hard to see where Becks would fit into a Milan scheme except on the bench. They prefer to play in a 4-3-2-1 formation, letting Kaka and Ronaldinho run off a lone striker such as Andrei Shevchenko. The only way Becks breaks into this lineup would if he bumped Gennaro Gattuso, Andrea Pirlo or Massimo Ambrosini – I’m just not seeing it.

Look for Beckham to play the role of super-sub while helping the club to sell millions of new AC Milan jerseys, all the while trying to keep himself in England manager Fabio Capello’s good graces. Let’s just hope that when he returns to LA next spring, he shows up ready to play.