They think it’s all over. Is it?

David Beckham’s World Cup dream lies in tatters as his ruptured Achilles has put paid to his hopes of making Fabio Capello’s squad for South Africa. Everyone has an opinion on Beckham, some good some not so good. Love him or hate him, Beckham’s loss is also England’s loss.

There are those who feel Beckham is a spent force. There are those who will always point to him being more of a celebrity, more of a distraction than being a useful weapon in England’s arsenal. There are even some who would tell you that Beckham was never that good and that this injury is a blessing in disguise for England. Maybe those people have a point. Maybe we have romanticised his contribution for England over the years. Maybe we have been duped by his good looks, his media savvy and the hype that follows him wherever he goes. Then again, maybe he has all of these things and more because of the player he has been throughout his career.

The place that many suppose was earmarked for Beckham on the plane to South Africa will now be contested by Aaron Lennon, Theo Walcott, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Ashley Young, James Milner and possibly Adam Johnson. Lennon (injury permitting) and Walcott seem to be in the driving seat having shared much of the qualifying campaign between them. James Milner would surely make the squad as a utility player who can play anywhere in midfield and even at full back, leaving the others jockeying for the remaining two slots.

Those players in themselves are of a decent quality: All have pace, all play regularly at big clubs, all are capable of finding the net and all can beat a man. Therein lays the problem for England: They all have the same attributes. The trick to winning a world cup is a good quality squad. Most teams at the finals have a decent 1st XI, but it is the team with the quality squad that will win through. Part of what makes a quality squad is having a Plan B, C and even D. With the players named above, it is all too similar to be part of a plan B. If Lennon starts, he gives England pace and skill (though not always the best final ball). If a team sees him off and England need to make a change to break the deadlock, bringing on Theo Walcott say, gives England what exactly? Pace? Yes. Skill? Yes. Not always the best final ball? Yes. In a nutshell, the same characteristics as Aaron Lennon.

Conversely, were Beckham to come off the bench to replace Lennon he is an altogether different proposition. He doesn’t beat players, but he does have an incredible ability to play a pass that few players in the world can rival. His delivery into the box is second to none, both from open play and dead balls. England’s usual plan B (play it long to Peter Crouch to win in the air) surely lends itself to Beckham’s skill set rather than the others. In fact if you ask Crouch and newly crowned headed goal expert Wayne Rooney who they’d like to see coming on to supply that final ball they would both say Beckham.

Think also of how crucial set pieces can be in major tournaments. With games finely balanced in each round, one free-kick can be the difference between success and failure. When Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard crashes a free kick into the wall from a scoring position for the umpteenth time will people still say Beckham is not needed? When a set piece hits the first man with England’s big guns waiting patiently in the box will people still say England don’t need Beckham? I thought not. It simply isn’t right to assume that a side like England can manage without such a potent weapon.

Also in Beckham’s favour is his wealth of international experience. Many have criticized some of his more recent caps for his country but whether you agree with the award of these England caps or not, the sort of experience that 115 England appearances yield is not to be sneezed at. Some will still point to the low points in Beckham’s international career: the red card against Argentina, the missed penalties against France and Portugal in the European championships and of course his omission by Steve McLaren. However, every player has ups and downs in his career.

The fact is, there is probably no-one who cares more about playing for England, there is no-one who is more experienced and of course, there is no-one who can match Beckham’s most potent skills: his passing and crossing.

This could well be the end of Beckham’s England career; I hope that is not the case, I for one feel that England are much poorer without him.

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3 Comments

  1. Good article, talking sense. Greatest crosser of the ball that has ever lived. One of the greatest men that have ever lived. He’s had more good games for england than most of the current squad put together. Even if he doesn’t always catch the eye, rarely gives the ball away and creates at least one chance. Shame other english players don’t work as religiously on their techniques – they might become the best in the world at something too if they did.

  2. A blog? Really! Can you call it something else? But despite this i actually very much enjoyed the piece and 100% agree with it. Good work

  3. Milner should not be used as a utility player
    His stats prove he is by far England’s best option anywhere in midfield.
    Stop disrespecting him and get him in the starting line up for once.
    http://www.myavfc.wordpress.com
    You cant argue with facts!


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