Then Saturday Comes… the half decent football blog

The Curious Case of Benjamin Beckham + Leicester’s love of score draws
February 15, 2009, 4:08 pm
Filed under: Mat Reville's Football Blog


jumping on the Benjamin Button Oscar bandwagon?

David Beckham: jumping on the Benjamin Button Oscar bandwagon?

David Beckham has become a real-life Benjamin Button.  In joining Milan, he seems to have got 5 years younger in 5 weeks.  In the week that he became England’s second-most capped player, he is refusing to rest on his laurels and is preparing to take part in his first Milanese derby.

It’s probably right for me to use the public watchdog role afforded to me by this blog to look into the Beckham comeback a little closer and work out how he turned the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel to reality.

After the 2006 World Cup, the permanently injured David Beckham was cast-off as a ‘past it’ who could no longer play at international level.  Metertarsals were being popped at too high a frequency, and he was sent out to pasture.

Dropped from the England set-up and sent out to quasi-retirement at MLS soccerball franchise LA Galaxy, old Goldenballs was perceived as becoming a side-show attraction.  The lack of knowledge of the American leagues made people feel that he had gone down the same route as Iron Mike Tyson; a former sporting icon who is now dossing around as a Vegas side-show in one of Donald Trump’s plazas.

Even when Steve McLaren relented and called Beckham back to the England squad, it had the feeling of a nostalgia novelty.  Sure, we all knew that ‘natural successors’ Aaron Lennon, Jermain Pennant and Shaun Wright-Phillips couldn’t actually kick a ball high enough to constitute a real cross, but Becks was only back for the short term.

It was seen by most as just another example of ‘Second Chance Stevie’, a hapless manager pottering around cap in hand to players who were in the international wilderness (Sol Campbell, Jamie Carragher, Paul Scholes, Emile Heskey).

Becks considers ways to cover up those aging locks

Becks considers ways to cover up those aging locks

When D-Beck played that return game, he did look like a man who shouldn’t be playing at the top level.  Not in terms of skill (his return finally brought many crosses for Peter Crouch to constitute a threat in the box), but in terms of his once acclaimed looks.

The winger sported the kind of haircut formerly reserved for Italian strikers losing in League Cup Finals for Middlesborough 10 years before.

Fast forward to 2009, and two of football’s most succesful conservative managers are organising their plans around the same fella.

AC Milan’s Carlo Ancelotti is begging the tight-fisted AC Milan board to plump up £10m to splash on a player who will be 34 by the end of the season.  Becks also holds a special place in the Fabio Capello-inspired England ‘revolution’ .

The route cause of all this hoopla is D-Becks’ apparently great form in Serie A while on a loan from the yanks.  I must admit not to have seen a minute of him playing in Italy, so I can’t really comment on that.  However, it does seem to make sense that he could dominate that league.

Italian football is based on technique and grit rather than speed and agility.  Games are played at a slower pace, affording players more time on the ball and rewarding intelligence on the pitch over athleticism.

This match has probably happened by the time you read this, and Beckham has probably disgraced himself with a pathetic performance, resulting in the above article serving as a public reminder that I am not really a qualified football journalist...

For that reason, there really is no sense in thinking that this ‘new’ Beckham will transfer back into the international set-up because he is good in Serie A.  He will still have the same limitations (not being able to beat a man) as he did in that post-World Cup backlash against him playing. However, the truth is Beckham has not beaten a full-back for pace since 1997, and that was against Mike Whitlow.

His game has never been about pace, it is about vision, ball retention and set-pieces.  All of those skills will improve if he stays at Milan.  And for the record, he should never ever have lost his place in the England squad, irrespective of playing for LA Galaxy or not.  I can understand why he could have lost his place in the team, but there is no way that Beckham has been outside the best 23 English players at any point in the last 10 years.

As an aside, I’m sure you all realise that another L. Scott Fitzgerald novel was ‘The Great Gatsby’, whose central theme was the corruption of derams by the empty pursuit of money.  By leaving the Galaxy, Beckham’s life is turning into an homage to the jazz age author.


Leicester fans take to the streets

Leicester fans take to the streets

League One pace-setters Leicester City have started to stumble at the Walkers Bowl recently, following successive 0-0 draws with Oldham and Brighton respectively.

Despite being 10 points clear of the play-offs, these results have seen an increasing number of morons booing at the full-time whistle.  Sadly, some seem to have got that Manchester United mentality whereby anything other than a win constitutes going into ‘crisis mode’.

At least that’s what I thought until this weekend.

With five minutes to go in the game against Swindon Town, we were heading to our first league defeat in 19 games.  The crowd were growing increasingly impatient, bemoaning any  misplaced passes and groaning at the slightest mistake.

Of course, I know that moaning at football matches is all par for the course, but the negativity of Leicester fans to a team flying so high at the top of the division is hard to comprehend.

Anyway, back to the Crisp Bowl.

As the clock hits ’86’ we are creeping ever-closer to the defeat that would mean just 2 points gained from the last 3 home games – relegation form (if you forget the 2 away wins that came between those results).  Then comes salvation, through the glorious figure of Andy ‘The’ King.

Kingy found himself in some space in the box, and with a deft outside-of-the boot finish, took his tally up to 11 goals for the season.  The last few minutes played out uneventfully, and Leicester left with their third successive home draw.

However, unlike those Oldham and Brighton games, the chorus of boos was replaced by hearty applause for a hard-won point.  Whilst a 0-0 constitutes a terrible performance, 1-1 is for some reason a triumph.  The fact that we had got a point by scoring was something to be applauded, while getting one by not conceding a goal was something to bemoan.

I didn’t listen to the radio phone-in that night as I already knew what the callers would be saying.  I guess I should be thankful that my walk home was not interrupted by Leicester chizzits with flaming torches, and I live in perpeptual fear for my safety after that next 0-0 home draw.


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