Beckham a galaxy away in Milan

Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

It seems silly to think the most marketable football star of all-time would enjoy playing in North America’s MLS.  After all, the country couldn’t care less about his CV; the fans just want to be a part of the big show, as Yanks do.  But the feeling would appear mutual; Beckham has hardly done his best to promote soccer in America.

Instead, he’s chasing token England caps for an unmerited record.  One could say, his injury problems have stunted his growth; add the inconsistent performance of his Los Angeles Galaxy team and the situation seems less than desirable.

No matter which way you cut it, a $250 million deal over 5 years is no small appearance fee.  LA Galaxy and MLS need him at home, spruiking the game and fighting the good fight for soccer amongst a colossus of foundation sports: American football, baseball and basketball.  Beckham’s arrival was akin to a rock star, with posh wife in hand and a promise of success.

The Galaxy made their money back on shirt sales alone.  The Englishman with a funny voice and supposed talent at 32 years of age had to start all over again, proving himself to a new market, just ask Robbie Williams, actually don’t.

For all the hype, Beckham along with the most-skilful American player, Landon Donovan, cocked-up a potentially championship winning season.  Although, this was not done on their own, the departure of President/General Manager, Alexi Lalas, who unveiled Beckham and legendary Dutch player now Manager, Ruud Gullit, turned the season into a right old mess.  No playoffs, no trophies and questions left unanswered.

With such a long off-season, Beckham needs to keep fit for his 2009 campaign, at least that’s what he told the Galaxy.  A three-month loan to Italian giants, AC Milan, from January to March was a PR-dream.  A spell in Milan will see Beckham on the park with the likes of Paolo Maldini, Ronaldinho, Kaká and rising talent, Alexandre Pato.

Italian Prime Minister and media mogul, Silvio Berlusconi, who owns the red half of Milan, has welcomed Beckham-mania with open arms.  I can just see Becks’ wife, Victoria, asking her hubby to land her a media gig through his new big boss.

You have to ask yourself though, why would AC Milan want a now 33-year-old aging athlete?  Aging legs seems to be the problem for the Club in general with a defence as weak as a pensioner’s bladder and bench full of has-beens.  Well, how about a glowing reference from former Manager and now England gaffer, Fabio Capello?  That’ll get you in the door.

Capello obviously still believes Beckham can contribute to the national team, which is a tad ironic, seeing as he dropped him from his Real Madrid team upon hearing the news of his impending exit to the Galaxy.  Still, this turn of fortune must have been music to the ears of the former England Captain.  Make no mistake, Beckham wanted this loan move more than anyone, Milan didn’t come begging.  Beckham can give all the reasons in the world but it all comes back to his England caps, his record, his ego and personal hall of fame.

In the meantime, the Galaxy is preparing for their marquee to return, praying he doesn’t want out of his contract.  After watching his Serie A debut on the weekend away to AS Roma, where he played 89 mentally-focused minutes, the relationship seems all too comfortable.

Beckham provides the team with something extra, width.  Milan has been criticised for playing a narrow game, Ronaldinho on the left and Beckham on the right could be a valuable tactical option for Manager, Carlo Ancelotti, as unpredictability is the key to success in modern football.

Although Beckham will have some competition over the coming months, new-boy Mathieu Flamini and fiery veteran, Rino Gattuso will be unimpressed by his arrival.  Gattuso has already spoken-out claiming the Beckham deal was strange.  I must admit, Beckham didn’t look fit enough to play a central midfield or deep-lying playmaker role from what I saw of his performance in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

Ancelotti seems to think Beckham’s ability is diverse enough, suggesting the central role, usually occupied by Andrea Pirlo, might be an option:  “He can play in the centre or on the flank.  He’s a good player so why shouldn’t he try to cover Pirlo’s role.”  Way to put the pressure on, Carlo.  His range of passing may be his greatest asset but let’s be honest, he’s no Pirlo.

Beckham’s main focus is on match fitness.  It’s no secret that his goal is to play for England in the upcoming friendly in Spain on February 11.  He will want to put-in some outstanding performances for his new Club to even stand a chance of being considered for the squad.  I for one enjoyed watching Beckham for many years; he was a pivotal player for Manchester United and England during his captaincy.

However, holding-back new blood would be wrong of Capello.  There is an emerging crop of exciting talent back home – waiting to formally retire old Goldenballs – the likes of Theo Walcott, Aaron Lennon, Ashley Young and David Bentley.  All of whom play in England.

If Becks is anything, he is determined.  Determined to prove everyone wrong, clinging on to his England career for dear life.  Is it so wrong of him to want to play in the next World Cup?  Winning the title with Real Madrid in Spain’s La Liga under Capello’s guidance may give him (and the desperate England fans) the belief that 2010 is the year for the three-lions.  Becks will travel half way around the galaxy and back, just give him his English pride.


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