No More “Brand Beckham”

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CaughtOffside’s weekly diarist SuesieG is back after defying the FA to take a little winter break.

I’ve been on hiatus from football since last December. Let me re-phrase that, I’ve been on hiatus from the Premiership and football. This usually happens to me once a year and coincides at the same time when the “big 4” go to the top of the table and right before the transfer window starts to creak open.

Somewhere in there, a big name manager gets sacked, and another becomes the subject of falling out with the club rumours. Talk about the title race being over, and the battle to avoid relegation goes on even though there are at least five months left in the season.

And finally, I completely shut out all things football when the Beckhams find yet another big media story to remind us all that unfortunately yes, they still do exist.

Let’s Get Rid of Brand Beckham
When rumours of Beckham’s departure to L.A. surfaced in November, I had hoped they weren’t true. Instead, I was hoping that he would go back to England, finish out his career there, retire with some dignity, run his soccer schools, and act as a guest commentator on Match of the Day with other ex-professionals, or something like that. Sadly, this won’t happen because the evil beast known as Brand Beckham has reared its ugly head again.

Personally, I have to feel a little sorry for Becks, I think this is a spectacular fall from grace, and a disappointing way for him to leave the game. I mean no disrespect to the MLS, which I think is a good league, but the standard of the game is far less superior than what Becks has been used to.

I like David Beckham the person. He has always struck me as a decent and genuine guy, loves to play football, and tried his best for club and country. Half a million a week is a nice and tidy sum to you and me, but how much more money does Beckham really need? More importantly, I’ll bet you that all the money he’s getting doesn’t take the sting out being ejected from Manchester United, the England squad and never winning a major title for his country.

That being said, I have no time or patience for Brand Beckham. In my opinion, Brand Beckham has been as detrimental to David Beckham’s career as it has been beneficial to his wallet; and clearly, this is the real reason that the Beckhams are heading to America. For 3 years now, Victoria Beckham has been trying to establish herself and husband as a power couple in the U.S., with little success (see here: Rocawear, MTV awards, Damon Dash productions, Rock and Republic, etc.).

And, as for all the PR-ing he’s doing about the MLS having potential, it’s just a bunch of bullshit. My guess is that he NEVER watched an MLS game in his life until recently.

What very few people alluded to in all this is that Real Madrid is an enormous club with history and honours, and the SECOND to have unceremoniously benched Beckham and shown him the door with the “don’t let it hit your ass on the way out” message.

Personally, I don’t think Real ever had any interest in Beckham as a player. They were just another big club wanting to capitalize on his ability to sell shirts for profit. I think they actually said as much – that was around the same time they were challenging Man U as the biggest club and most profitable club, in the world and about the same time the term ‘galacticos’ was coined.

At Manchester United, they make no mention of Beckham these days or have anything to do with him, and yet there they are swanning along nicely without him. For what it’s worth, kudos to the foresight of Sir Alex. The replacement number 7, a then 17 year old Cristiano Ronaldo, was a steal with the transfer money earned from the sale of Beckham.

I suspect if Brand Beckham hadn’t gottten in the way, Becks would still be at Old Trafford enjoying a successful end to his career with the rest of the Class of ‘92, and he would be given a testimonial match. Personally, I think they should give Beckham a testimonial – most of the money raised would go to charity, but as long as Sir Alex is in charge, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

America wants to emulate what they see in European football, which is that soccer is not just a game, but a lifestyle, culture and business force to be reckoned with, and these top guys think that Beckham represents that.

What Don Garber and Co. don’t understand about the European game, however, is that celebrity players like Beckham NEVER filled stadiums on their own – the clubs themselves did that. Season ticket holders and fans go back and follow regular matches, domestic cup matches, and continent tournaments because they have a history with and loyalty to the club. Ergo, no player is bigger than a club. I don’t see this happening in the U.S. for a variety of reasons. Beckham will bring the crowds initially because people will be curious, but will they continue to show up? I doubt it. America is saturated with professional sports and their professional superstars.

If the L.A. Galaxy don’t do well, then Beckham and his overly large salary can expect to be on the receiving end of some serious media scapegoating. He’s not the player to light up a pitch and run end to end and score, he’s never had pace or super skills, he can kick a dead ball (but is not the best player in the world at it – Juninho Pernabucano of Lyon is); but that doesn’t buy you titles.

America will be perfect for Victoria – the land where a person like Paris Hilton is a celebrity for doing absolutely nothing. But for Beckham, I think this is a very sad way to end his career.

Ronaldo is not a pob pob.

Every so often, I ask my husband if he thinks I’m getting fat. We’ve been together a long time now, so this question doesn’t bother him anymore, but back in the early days, this was one of those panic stricken no-win situations. If he took too long to answer, he was in trouble. If he said “no”, he was lying and he was in trouble. And if he said “yes” or made a pob pob noise, then he was completely screwed, and shit would hit the fan.

With that in mind, I had to feel a little bit sorry for Carlo Ancelotti yesterday. When discussing the €7.5million decision to move the very curvaceous Ronaldo away from the lithe young things of Madrid and towards the carb-laden feasts of Milan, he didn’t exactly make the pob pob noise, but had something much more interesting to say.

Taking a wee bit too long to answer, the portly Ancelotti announced, “Ronaldo is not fat”. And then, after chain-smoking a pack of ciggies for dramatic effect, he waited just long enough for the room to stop laughing hysterically before adding, ”Ronaldo is robust!”

I suppose it’s all down to perspective on this one, and from Ancelotti’s view, he does have a point. Next to the average 30 year-old booze drinking, food loving, no exercising, unmotivated male – Ronaldo is not fat. But compared to the last 30 year old striker who graced the pitch at AC Milan (ie. Andriy Shevchenko), Ronaldo is one giant lard ass.

Personally, I think Ancelotti should have just said “yes” or made the pob pob noise instead, because if rumours of the rift between Kaka and the unfit/unmotivated Ronaldo are true, then Ancelotti is definitely screwed, and the dressing room at AC Milan will be one dirty place indeed.