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The Debate: David Beckham’s Decision To Play Sawker

The Debate gives you two sides to the major news story of the week (according to CaughtOffside), for once personal opinions are cast aside in the name of objectivity and unbiased discussion (gasp!).

So far we’ve debated diving and Rafa’s Liverpool future. This week, it’s David Beckham’s transfer to Los Angeles Galaxy. Brave pioneer making a supersmart career move at exactly the right time? Or has-been money grabber hen pecked into a move by his bint because she’s exhausted Madrid’s expensive shopping boutiques? Would a faux saviour-like return to the Premiership with the likes of Aston Villa or Tottenham have been the better choice?

As always here are two sides to the story, and we want to hear yours:

ON THE ONE HAND, it’s a smart move by Beckham and an inspired signing for MLS:
David Beckham has aged badly. Not his face, which is still disturbingly marketable, but he hasn’t got the legs to play at the very top anymore and certainly not at the pace of the Premiership – he’s always had to cope with a distinct lack of pace but the stamina and energy that defined his game is on the wane. We saw it at the World Cup, and we’ve seen his none too impressive club form this season. So with his days as a Galactico obviously numbered, and Beckham facing a pointless struggle to prove himself all over again at a non-top four club like Spurs, Villa or West Ham, he’s made the right choice.

It was getting to the point where Beckham couldn’t match his [massive celebrity on the pitch, so he would have had to perform miracles to justify himself every week in the Premiership. It’s a man who knows his own limitations making the very smartest career move. By heading to sunny California he’s inverted that paradigm (yes, we just used the word paradigm). In the US his celebrity is lower and his relative talent is higher. He’s top man again and he can walk down the street with slightly less hassle.

With his coaching schools out there, his obvious love of celebrity and, let’s face it, Posh fancying a spell in Hollywood, Becks was always going to play for Los Angeles Galaxy at some point. The danger was that he’d roll up aged 35, still famous but with nothing left in the tank football wise. Though he can’t quite cut it at the top level any more, he’s got more than enough aged 31 to make a real impact on sawker.

His celebrity will attract massive media attention for soccer Stateside this year, giving MLS the gigantic kick in the arse that it so desperately needs. The focus will shift to soccer and attendances will be up wherever he plays. Further, by showing MLS some respect and not treating the league like a retirement home and rolling up closer to 40 than 30, Beckham has helped legitimize MLS and his enterprising move should help convince some other big name players (say, Ronaldo for example) that MLS might be the place to be.

If Beckham can be the man to lead the revolution and wake America up to the best game in the world, then his celebrity will live on for ever as a pioneering innovator who achieved the impossible. And that’s got to be better than scoring a few free kicks for Newcastle.

ON THE OTHER HAND, it’s a cowardly move by Beckham and imminent disaster for MLS:
David Beckham has failed at Real Madrid. Four seasons at supposedly the best club in the world and nothing to show for it. Unless you count losing his place in the England team. We’ll never forget Beckham the celebrity, but the reputation of Beckham the footballer has taken a massive blow. The only way to regain some respect from football fans was to come back to the Premiership – doesn’t matter who with because he doesn’t need the money – and prove everyone wrong by making an a positive footballing impact to end his career. Now we’ll never know if he had anything left in the tank. But we’ll assume he didn’t.

He’ll do alright in MLS, he has to really. His two most famous team mates at LA Galaxy will be Landon Donovan, who couldn’t cut it at Bayer Levekusen, and Cobi Jones, who once had an average spell with Coventry City. He can’t lose football wise, but that really means that he can’t win.

And if Becks thinks he’s going to revolutionize soccer in America, he’s way off. Yes there will be some short term media attention, and yes swooning ladies will come to see this dreamy soccer player with movie star looks and celebrity appeal. But they won’t be there for the game, they’ll be there for the celebrity experience. And once he retires all that will go away and soccer in America will be back where it was after Pele left and the NASL folded.

Even worse, the crowds could flock to their first soccer game and leave unimpressed. All respect to Beckham’s passing and crossing ability, but it’s not too exciting to the untrained eye. Yanks will ask, “is this as good as soccer gets?”

And how long before Beckham gets frustrated with the massive drop in standard, and having to constantly justify soccer to skeptical American journalists? What’s the use of a pinpoint cross if some muppet like Alan Gordon heads it wide? And who wants to sit down with an arrognat ignoramus like Jim Rome and explain why games can end in “ties”. It’s almost guaranteed that Becks will be sick of playing with and against barely professional players after a couple of seasons, and will never last the full five years. Even if other players follow him to MLS it will still turn into one of those sad retirement pay day leagues. The only good thing about MLS right now is that American youngsters like Josmer Altidore get their chance to play nice and early.

He’s going to look back on this as a waste of his final years, while MLS and clubs like Los Angeles Galaxy will rue the day they spent a fortune filling the league with a bunch of Geriatricos. By moving to the MLS, David Beckham may have cemented his place in the eyes of his doubters as a player who – above all – was more about style than substance.

Those were the two sides of the story as COS sees it, but we’re usually wrong so let us know your thoughts.