Enough is enough. The time has come to reveal the preened and pruned Leytonstone native for what he really is. An overhyped, overrated, over the hill show-pony. For nearly 15 years this limited and selfish footballer has pulled the wool over the eyes of the world. How can someone so devoid of pace, so poor in the air and so weak defensively have fooled us for so long? I, for one, have had it up to here. It is time to reveal the truth about the ‘great’ David Beckham.
Beckham is, and always was, overrated. Roberto Carlos used to joke that his second touch was a tackle. He was wrong. More often than not his first touch was a tackle, and a weak and badly timed one at that. He has never had pace, is useless outside of dead ball situations, gets lost against competent defenders, does not track back and is popular only because he has promoted himself so astutely, what with his (apparently) dazzling looks and charismatic personality. When we look back at the late nineties and noughties, what will we remember? Will it be the elegant pirouettes of Zidane, the mesmerising stepovers of Ronaldo, the slaloming runs of Messi or the oh-so famous free kicks of David Beckham? My instinct tells me it will not be the latter.
The amazing thing about all this that he has managed to fool so many of the world’s leading managers. Sir Alex Ferguson, Sven Goran Eriksson, Fabio Cappello and now Carlo Ancellotti have all been seduced by the Beckham myth. Indeed, who would have thought that Ancelotti, the revered godfather of Italian football, would fall prey to the Beckham Delusion? The AC Milan coach has fought hard to keep the tired 33 year old Beckham at his club, a fact that has left me, for one, scratching my head. Surely he realises that Beckham, even more so than ever, is merely a marketing gimmick? Can he not see through the carefully orchestrated hype and fanfare?
But perhaps we are being a bit hard on Ancelotti. After all, Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps the greatest British manager of all time, also fell prey to the Beckham delusion. For a decade the Scot selected the “walking underpants commercial” for 265 Premier League matches, which, I am sure you will agree, is a ruinous indictment of Ferguson’s managerial insight. I mean, Manchester United only scraped together six league titles, two FA Cups and the Champions League in that period. Just think what they could have achieved with a decent player hugging that right touchline.
But the Beckham myth runs even deeper. In the Fifa World Player of the Year awards, Beckham has finished runner-up on two occasions, an achievement that places him well above any other English player. How can an award voted for by the leading players and coaches in the world have led to such a mystifying and unjustified result?
The little matter of eight consecutive years in the top ten European footballers of the year, a record, only adds to my confusion. Has the footballing world gone mad? Does it imply that those who earn their corn from playing and understanding the game are somehow out of their minds?
Or might it mean that those who have had a an axe to grind with Beckham – who have ridiculed, goaded and loathed him; who have constantly dismissed his wonderful abilities as media hype; who have regarded his admirers as unlearned armchair fanatics; who have demeaned his extraordinary achievements by suggesting that they were the consequence of having played alongside more gifted individuals; who have written him off time after time without ever having the decency to admit their wrongs – could it be that it is they who have been labouring under the delusion all along?