“Goodbye, England’s rose” this morning’s tabloids may as well have said, as National Treasure David Beckham apparently had his international career brutally curtailed by a casual interview comment from cold-hearted national manager Fabio Capello.
“I say thank you very much for helping me at the World Cup but probably he is a little bit old,” said the Italian, in a pre-recorded interview shown before last night’s friendly international victory over Hungary. Capello admitted that he hadn’t discussed this with Beckham directly, instead suggesting “probably someone has rung him now” to let him know.
It all seemed a little vague. That Beckham’s representative reacted with surprise shouldn’t have come as a shock. But given that this has turned out remarkably well for all concerned, is there more to this story than meets the eye?
The Guardian’s Barry Glendenning tweeted “Am I the only person alive who believes Beckham’s “people” orchestrated all this nonsense in cahoots with the FA?”, quite rightly pointing out that “they haven’t actually said he was unaware it was going to happen, did they?”
If you think about it, just about everyone benefits from this. Beckham is instantly thrust back into the headlines, portrayed by the sympathetic press as a martyr; Capello makes an eyebrow-raising decision that shows he’s prepared to make tough choices for the good of the national side; and the FA benefits from the money-spinning ‘farewell’ friendly (certain to be a sell-out) that will mark Beckham’s final appearance in an England shirt.
Of course, it could just be poor communication on Capello’s part – and that wouldn’t be the first time. But there’s something awfully convenient, just a little too neat and tidy about all this.