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Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Beckham bows, Bale wows

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OK, so the nation’s red-top readers might not be unified in touching an x-ray of his broken Achilles tendon this summer, but David Beckham’s injury and subsequent absence from this year’s World Cup rightfully dominated Monday's papers. Sure, his prospective absence isn’t anywhere near as pressing this summer as it was eight years ago in Asia – and, if cynicism is anything to go by, he wouldn’t even have made this year’s plane – but after working tirelessly to get back into the England setup over the last 18 months, chez-Beckham surely won’t be mounting any more international caps on the mantle piece(s).

Now, I haven’t got a problem with Beckham. I haven’t even got a problem with brand-Beckham; sure, he married into fortune, fame and OK magazine shame, but nobody should begrudge him of that. Not least when he is (was) still going strong a week before his thirty-fifth birthday, featuring in massive Champions League knock-out matches and being tipped – by some – to feature in an ultra-commendable fourth successive World Cup Finals.

My gripe on this one is with the fickle nature of those who constitute the football-supporting (and, come to think of it, the football-writing) demographic in this country. David Beckham can’t win. He never could (a non-satirical lexical choice). I’m going to hedge my bets and say that all the people who state Beckham should never had made an England team for just being “committed” and “passionate”, are exactly the same short-sighted fools who say that John Terry should have retained the nation’s captaincy for having these very traits alone. "We don’t solely want passion and commitment in our players, but seeing as John Terry only offers both he can have the captaincy"... the only traits I want in these people are consistency and sense.

* * *

Meanwhile, two bouts of brilliance locked horns at White Hart Lane on Saturday, as Tottenham’s reformed Gareth Bale came face-to-face with Blackburn’s deformed Michel Salgado. The only difference being, of course, is that Bale’s brilliance came in the 90 minutes of football, while Salgado’s came in his post-match comments. After being tormented for the best part of an hour by the Tottenham left-sider’s power, craft and pace, Salgado felt the need to publicly piece together the mystery of his own performance: “Bale is a diver”, the deluded Spaniard concluded. I haven’t laughed so hard since Allardyce signed him in the first place. I would put to Salgado that he doesn't really have a leg to stand on with this one. Much like during Saturday's game. His comments were the footballing equivalent of a child refusing to accept defeat at Pogs by stating that his opponent “smells”. I half-expected Salgado to blow a raspberry at the interviewer, fold him arms and sulk. Alan Hansen's assessment of the full-back's eventful Saturday: "He looked 49". Time for him to act his age, methinks.

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