City of Angels: Beckham, LA and the New Football
This weekend Barcelona take on Espanyol in the derby. After an exceptionaly poor performance against Getafe last Sunday and markedly improved one against Alaves in the Copa Del Rey on Wednesday, thanks chiefly to the fabulous Javier Saviola who scored both gols, the blaugrana will still be missing Deco (he picked up a knock in training) but will have 'dinho back against their royalist neighbours, having been suspended for the trip to Madrid. Ah Madrid.
With Zizou retired, Figo pensioned off to Inter and Ronaldo seemingly content to sit on the bench and gain weight, all eyes were on David Beckham when the January transfer window opened. The last galactico, frozen out of the team by a hard-nosed Fabio Capello was certain to get the heave-ho with his contract expiring in the summer. Having toiled at the Bernabeu for three-and-a-half years to little effect, watching the club implode on all fronts, seeing coach after coach getting the sack, dispairing as his team listed on the pitch; Beckham's time at Real will be judged by many as a failure. As news of Becks move to Los Angeles broke on Thursday it was hard not to feel like he'd given up. Given up on being a serious footballer, given up on a recall to the England squad, given up on winning anything. For such a proud man who always gives his all, this is quite a climb down.
The super human Iker Casillas aside, Beckham has easily been Real's best player in the past three seasons. While Raul laboured, Cassano bitched and moaned, Ronaldo got fatter and Roberto Carlos ballooned free kicks into the stratosphere, Becks never coasted, never let games pass him by, he always made the effort. Which makes his semi-retirement to Los Galactios do Los Angeles more than a little sad.
I've always liked Becks, despite his becoming a Madridista. He's a good footballer rather than a great one but he's made the most of his talents, his looks and his brand and turned himself into a superstar. Victoria had her part to play of course but if Golden Balls hadn't scored 'that' gol against Wimbledon, nailed 'that' freekick against Greece, taking England to the World Cup, played for the best and most popular team in the world, well, she'd be an ex-Spice Girl and we certainly wouldn't be talking about $250 million over five years.
I wish him well in LA. He will of course do very well, be seen at all the right parties, tear it up on Rodeo Drive, live in a great house, be followed everywhere he goes by Splash News and Big Pictures, win the SuperBowl, run for President, save the whales, win the war in Iraq and look great doing it.
Normal blaugrana service will return tomorrow with a match report on the derby.