Monday, 9 February 2009

Beckham steals the headlines as England hope to reign in Spain.

The recall of former skipper David Beckham understandably took most of the headlines when Fabio Capello announced his England squad on Saturday evening.The former Man United man has impressed while on loan at AC Milan and now has the chance to equal the late, great Bobby Moore’s record of 108 international caps.
Though I’m sure he would never admit it, I believe Becks made a mistake when he left Real Madrid for L.A. Galaxy in 2006. At the time he signed the pre-contract agreement to move to the U.S. he was frozen out of Steve McClaren’s England squad and out of favour at Real Madrid (ironically under Fabio Capello). So a big money move, and a chance to see out is career in L.A., must have seemed an attractive proposition.
But by the time he made the move across the Atlantic, McClaren had recalled Beck’s to the England fold. Beckham’s dream of playing at the next world cup in South Africa had suddenly become more of a reality – but playing in a sub-standard league was never going to count in his favour.
To be fair to Beckham, he was the consummate professional and got his head down and worked hard to settle in at his new club. But wasn’t a surprise that when Milan came calling, Becks jumped at the chance to play for one of Europe’s biggest clubs. Despite the usual media circus that surrounds him, Beckham’s performances on the pitch have been impressive and his recall to the squad is on merit. If I was a football betting man, I would be tempted to put money on Becks being on the plane to South Africa next summer (should we qualify of course!)
Elsewhere Capello continued his policy of picking players based on form with, among others, West Ham’s Carlton Cole earning a call-up. Hammers striker Cole has been in goal scoring form of late and looks set to play in the ‘Heskey’ role, using his strength and power to hold up the ball.
His inclusion may have raised a few eyebrows, but it is a statement from Capello. Too often under previous managers the squad has been seen as a closed shop, with the same players being called up every time. But Capello has given hope to any English player that if they play well enough, they are in with a shout.
Cole may have his weaknesses, but if he uses his power and strength to hold up the ball and lay it off to more creative team-mates, he could play a key role in England’s future.
The game against Spain represents another step in England’s recovery from their disastrous EURO 2008 campaign. Pride has been well and truly restored by Mr Capello and the victory in Germany last November gave us the biggest boost of all. A win over reigning European champions Spain could show to the world that England is back as international force.

Written by Tom Mallows, online sports writer for Betfair. Check them out for the latest Cheltenham odds.