Football FanCast columnist Scott McCarthy reflects on the latest instalment of this David Beckham and England love-in.
A striker who grabs a brace in a hard working performance and a left winger who notched the other and gave his marker a torrid time all evening would both be considered worthy recipients of a man of the match award. But not in the world of the England team. Oh no, the Nationwide man-of-the-match for the 3-0 victory over Belarus contributed 32 minutes from the substitutes bench, played a couple of passes and hit a post. And so the David Beckham love-in continues, this time at the expense of Peter Crouch and Shaun Wright-Phillips
Now don't get me wrong, any man who holds 115 caps for his country deserves the legendary status that Beckham holds. But the whole worshipping of a player who is only the third best option wide on the right (behind Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott) is becoming, if anything, a little tiresome.
Take last night for example. Beckham once again showed off his ability to launch a ball from one side of the pitch to the other with pinpoint accuracy. He also showed that he is just a man, with a man's powers, and the ability to misplace a pass, with several missing the intended target and some even drifting out of play. Never mind, we'll let our David off, clap wildly for giving away possession and tell him he was unlucky. After all, Glen Johnson can cop the shower of abuse for his attempts at a similar pass that ends with the same result – a Belarus throw.
And what about that assist. That really was something else. If it wasn't for Beckham, Wright-Phillips would never have got his well-deserved goal. Forget the fact that the little Man City winger beat one man before finishing impressively (although, admittedly the keeper should have done a lot better), it was David's short corner that did it. Magestic. Unbelievable stuff. Yet you can bet your bottom dollar that if it had have been Frank Lampard with the short corner, it would have been basic, training ground stuff – nothing to regal your Grandchildren with in forty years time.
The announcement of Beckham as man-of-the-match at the conclusion of the game was met with rapturous applause by the 77,000 fans in attendance (or at least those who hadn't abandoned ship with 10 minutes to play). Of course, this will no doubt be bigged up as an indication of how popular he is with the England fans, and how important he is to the side, despite the fact that every man-of-the-match award is greeted with that reaction. Most man-of-the-match announcements are not greeted with the laughter of disbelief that followed the rapturous applause though, as was the case in block 342, as even Beckham's most loyal subjects – the Wembley crowd – couldn't believe that he was being deemed to be the best player on the park on the night.
Yes, Beckham is a good player. Yes, he has been a superb servant to English football in the last 13 years. Yes, he should probably go to the World Cup, providing he is playing first team football in the run-up that is not in a Mickey Mouse league. But don't let Beckham simply bending over to tie his bootlace outshine the achievements of a machine that has done fantasticly well with him merely as a spare part. England has a good chance of success in South Africa next summer – but it will not be down solely to David Beckham.
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