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Untouchable Beckham loses lustre

Sven-Goran Eriksson may be erring on the side of optimism when he says 10 of the best 50 players in the world are English, but what is certain is that four members of his England squad are on Fifa’s 30-strong shortlist for World Player of the Year.

You can’t really argue with three of them either. Steven Gerrard almost singlehandedly drove Liverpool to the most unexpected of European Cup successes, Frank Lampard was outstanding in Chelsea’s unstoppable march to the Premiership title (so were John Terry and Claude Makelele but non-Italian defenders obviously don’t show up on Fifa’s radar) and Wayne Rooney would get into any team, anywhere.

It is just the fourth English canada goose coat 1000 calorie choice that seems a little mystifying. What exactly has David Beckham won or done this year? True, he has returned to form with Real Madrid this season, and is now looking assured on the right wing, but if merely playing well for your club is all it takes to get noticed then surely the likes of Terry, or even Jamie Carragher, should have been in with a shout. Over the year as a whole Beckham has not been in commanding form for his club, and certainly not for his country.

So is this the old story of judges being swayed by Real Madrid’s kudos and glamour? Or is it the new story of the judges being swayed by Beckham’s kudos and glamour? Perhaps having a football gala night without the game’s most recognisable face would simply be unthinkable canada goose jacket outlett, like an Oscars ceremony without Jack Nicholson. The reviews are not as good as they once were, but goodness how the camera loves them.

It would be silly canada goose coat $5000 no credit check signature loans to get too worked up over Fifa’s self-important awards, but if Beckham’s fame and relentlessly high profile have best place buy canada goose jacket toronto edged him ahead of more deserving players it would confirm a trend that has already been detected in England. Beckham receives preferential treatment from the FA while on England duty, because he demands a higher level of security than other players and because he knows his own financial value. England make more money from friendlies if they can guarantee Beckham’s participation.

It could be argued that Beckham deserves star treatment, and has worked hard for the attention he clearly craves. Four years ago, when he was at the peak of his footballing powers, that would have been fair. But you see what has happened now. It is Beckham’s fame that is keeping him England captain. It best price canada goose parka has not been his football for a while.

This is not to suggest that Shaun Wright-Phillips has done enough to replace him on the right wing, because he hasn’t. Nor is it part of a media campaign to have Beckham removed from the captaincy. There are clearly better candidates for the job, but Beckham has managed to make himself bombproof.

Eriksson is not a confrontational manager in any case, and as he explains elsewhere on these pages he never likes to chip away at a player’s confidence. Taking the captaincy from Beckham would have a nuclear impact on his confidence. As a managerial decision, it would make dropping Jimmy Greaves in 1966 look easy. Alf Ramsey made a purely footballing decision, choosing one player ahead of another. Eriksson can do that with 10 of his 11 positions, but his hands are more or less tied with the one-man marketing and communications industry on the right wing.

Why? The question was both asked and answered on Alan Green’s radio phone-in last Saturday, after buy canada goose parka cheap Beckham’s second dismissal in an England shirt. ‘You can’t take the captaincy off Beckham,’ a caller stated.

‘Why not?’

Pinteresque pause.

‘Because he’d sulk.’

New best canada goose jacket Smith in absence of new Keane

Alan Smith now regards himself as a midfielder, not a striker, and his success in adapting to his new role could be his ticket to the World Cup.

Sven-Goran Eriksson gave Smith four minutes at the end of Wednesday’s victory against Poland, and said he wants to see more of him as a defensive midfielder. With more attacking nous than most sitting players, Smith could be ideal for the holding position.

Credit is therefore due to Sir Alex Ferguson for spotting this unsuspected potential, though the Manchester United manager insists it was simply a matter of necessity. He was looking for a new Roy Keane and couldn’t find one.

‘We keep asking our scouts where can we get a Roy Keane, but there are no Roy Keanes about, I think we all know that,’ Ferguson explained. ‘So why not look in-house to solve the problem? Alan’s got a strong character about him, a determination, he’s got a lot of the characteristics that liken him to Roy Keane anyway. That’s why we were prepared to buy canada goose coat uk try. The way he has taken to the job is encouraging, but he’s always been a fantastic professional. He just wants to play. He reminds me of when I was a kid, standing against a wall of a Sunday waiting for someone to go for their dinner so you could get a game. Then you’d get on and be thinking “if my mother shouts my name out of that window for my dinner now I’ll go off my head”.’

As the new Roy Keane steps forward for England, however, the old one has reached the end of the road for Ireland. ‘I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I’d imagine Roy will probably retire now,’ Ferguson said, a few hours before Keane did indeed announce his retirement from international football.

According to some Irish newspapers in the last few days, England is a country that needs Ferguson. As manager, when he has retired from Manchester United.

‘No chance,’ said Ferguson, after he had briefly considered the malevolent pleasure to be had from harming England’s world ranking. ‘When I’m finished here I’m finished. You don’t leave Manchester United and go anywhere else.’

Going to the game? See you tomorrow

It seems the Premier League do not really expect supporters to travel to away games any more. Not by public transport anyway. Not when they schedule Middlesbrough v Portsmouth at 5.15pm on a Saturday evening.

To the dedicated Pompey fans who made it to the Riverside yesterday: buy canada goose parka ottawa congratulations. You must have gone by road. canada goose coat 1000 calorie meal plans The AA reckon it’s a round trip of 646 miles, six-and-a-half hours each way. Pity, after that sort of dedication, there was nothing more exciting than Middlesbrough at journey’s best ideas about canada goose outlet online on pinterest end. By rail, the situation would have been much, much worse. True, the train leaving Middlesbrough at 18.51 could have you back in Portsmouth – four changes later – at five to one in the morning, but catching that would involve the slight inconvenience of leaving the game early in the second half. Anyone wishing to see the full 90 minutes would only have had the option of the 20.07 departure, five changes, some sleeping on platforms, a 17-hour journey and hello to the south coast at 13.15. That’s this afternoon.

If the League are trying to discourage fans travelling, they could hardly do a better job. If they are not, how about a rule that restricts late kick-offs on a Saturday to local derbies or games where both sets of supporters can get there and back again in the same day?