Mad Brit Diary
Oh, cruel world! Beckham to U.S. is a revolting thought.
(Saturday, April 26, 2003) - "Beckham Wants to Be Big in United States," blared the headline from a Reuters story this week, commenting on David Beckham's interview in the European edition of Time magazine.
The Mad Brit nearly choked on his Cadbury Chocolate Easter egg when he read that stunner. Is it really true that Beckham, the great English bender of balls, would ever consider crossing Atlantic to display his skills for a club under the Stars and Stripes?
Beckham, as we all know, is a very clever boy when it comes to marketing and he loves the spotlight. He and his wife are almost royalty in England. Becks, knows like the rest of us, that to be really famous, you have to be BIG in the land where they love peanut butter candy (yuck), call chips French. . . sorry, Freedom Fries, and can't make a decent cuppa tea if you paid them.
As Cliff Richards -- Britain's version of Elvis -- learnt, if you don't make it New York, you just haven't made it. "No other English footballer has every really made it big over there (in the U.S)," Beckham told Time. "I'd love to be well-known in America. I'd love to be recognized over there. The American people are so patriotic about their teams and their sports -- more so than anywhere else in the world."
And Becks maybe laying the groundwork for a future career here. Last night he and wife Posh Spice bared their hearts to Barbara Walters about America on ABC's 20\20.
Only one soccer player really made it in the USA -- Pele. The Brazilian MasterCard King is probably the only soccer player the average Yank knows after Mia Hamm. "I don't see why in the future it can't change," Beckham said. "Just another challenge for me, I think, to try to get noticed over there."
Stop 10 Americans on any street in Boston or Atlanta and they wouldn't know who Beckham was. But things are changing. Americans apparently love the new movie "Bend it Like Beckham," so the Posh Boy is making headway. And this summer, Beckham and the boys from Manchester United will be playing, Glasgow Celtic in Seattle, Inter Milan at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and Barcelona at Philadelphia. Of course the American media, which doesn't tear down its icons in such rabid fashion as the British tabloids, would just love Becks and Posh. Becks doesn't actually talk the Queen's English -- his accent gives away his lower middle-class status -- and the snob British media often gives him a rollicking because of that. But in America, where wealth is more important than class, he would be very welcome.
"I like the way they (Americans) look up to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods," Beckham said. "I'm sure they criticize players but not to the extent where they're putting their own people and their own stars down. That's what's nice."
Oh to see the golden boy in a MetroStars jersey. Dave could leave his Park Avenue, Manhattan pad, and drive down to Giants Stadium in the bogs at the Meadowlands in New Jersey. Meantime, the stunning Victoria could do the weekly shopping on Fifth Avenue and take young Brooklyn on day trips to, well, the Brooklyn Bridge, of course. Beckham would have to play for the MetroStars. Kansas City, Columbus, New England or even D.C. United, in the murder capital of America, are all just too provincial.
In New York, Becks could always catch the red-eye back to England when he felt the urge for real Yorkshire pudding, sausage rolls and real clotted cream. Sadly, on States-side, he would be stuck watching re-runs of his and Posh's favorite TV show - "Dream Team" - on Fox Sports World. There would be detractors of course. Paul Gardner, the venerable and brilliant scribe of America soccer journalism, would no doubt find something upsetting to say about Beckham's bleached hair.
Gardner, the lesser erudite, separated twin at birth of the London Sunday Times's Brian Glanville, despises most things from his native country, after fallen in love with the Latin game. A British accent used to work wonders in American soccer circles going back to the 1960s and 70s. These days, however, the sound of an Englishman only reminds all those Bruce Arena wannabes of the long-ball game and Route One soccer.
Beckham could change all that. But before America, it seems Beckham is musing a move to Spain to please the wife's shopping habits and brush shoulders with Ronaldo and Figo at Real Madrid. There again, who knows, one day he could end up setting up passes for Clint Mathis. And in closing, George Best, who was last sober back in the 1960s, once said Beckham couldn't head the ball, couldn't use his left foot, and couldn't dribble. I just wonder what Best thought about that stunning free kick against Real Madrid the other night. The Mad Brit will say it again, Becks is the best passer of the ball in the world.
The great goal scorers
Thierry Henry has notched 110 goals in 200 games for Arsenal. Manchester United's Paul Scholes got his 100th goal last week for the Red Devils and Liverpool's Michael Owen is just two short of 100. Only 10 players in Liverpool's history have ever reached a century of league goals. Owen has 98 goals in league play and 183 in his career. He has scored 24 this season, his second-highest total and just four short of his best. Meanwhile, the great Alessandro Del Piero of Juventus has 98 goals in the Serie A.
WBA slips down
The Mad Brit shed a tear this week for West Bromwich Albion as it slid back to play First Division soccer next season. The MB remembers back in the 1960s watching Georgie Best run circles round the Albion when the Baggies were regulars in top-flight soccer and the late Jeff Astle was nodding them home regularly each week.
Albion was fun to watch, but no match for Georgie-boy (the girls all screamed when he touched the ball).
Lothar Matthaeus suffered his first loss as coach of Partizan Belgrade, falling to Red Star Belgrade 2-0. It was Matthaeus' first defeat in eight matches since he took over in December.
The mail box
Major League Soccer takes a bashing this week. Henry Careaga tries puts things into perspective: "As a native of Los Angeles, and thus a Galaxy 'homer,' my Galaxy wouldn't stand a chance against Manchester United. . . MLS has a long way to go before we can compete, but the gap is closing."
Then Dan Leo chimes in: "MLS is un-watchable. If Real plays like the Harlem Globetrotters, MLS does like the Washington Generals (for those uninitiated, those are the Globetrotter pale skin patsies). There's absolutely no skill, no passing, no dribbling, no finishing. The league is run by a lawyer ill-versed in the game."
On broken bones, Jeff Chambers writes: "I broke my leg in an indoor game (after the running of the bulls in Pamplona, the world's second most dangerous sport) in much the same was as the Mad Brit needed a plate and six long screws to put it back together." (Stay clear of bulls, Jeff.)
Diane Smith on goalies: "Goalkeeping is a totally thankless position and the job description is to put yourself in harm's way. You have to be at least a little crazy to even get in a net. . . and a little more crazy to actually be good at it."
And on La Liga vs. the English Premier League, Samuel Kpakiwa writes: "Just wanted to chime in on the whole EPL vs. La Liga argument. I think both are, without a doubt, top-tier leagues. One would have to be insane to suggest otherwise. However, the only true way to compare these two leagues of completely different styles and attitudes, is to consider their success in European competition.
"Sadly, as a huge Manchester United fan, I must say the La Liga is in a class of its own and thus is the better league. The EPL has hype, but La Liga is the standard by which to measure club footie in Europe. You still have to love the flash, speed and physicality that is EPL footie."
George Palaidis on Beckham's future moves: "The current talk of Beckham transferring to Real or somewhere else, perhaps even MLS? Very interesting, but it just sounds so weird to me, seeing he has Red Devil blood running through his veins."
On Arsenal, Knapp is back, and he writes: "As for Arsenal, you need to dig deeper. They get away with murder. Their fluent, attractive style seems to subdue people in their criticism of their often brutish play. Bergkamp, with his angelic face and favor by the media has gotten away with butchery his entire Premiership career. Almost any other player would have been labeled for life, and rightly so. Why does he get away with some of the stuff he pulls?
Goalies again Juan Salalones says, Manchester "United needs a new keeper. (Fabien) Barthez isn't bad, but he isn't currently at (Peter) Schmeichel's standard, or (Brad) Friedel's for that matter. His style of play makes his team nervous. Maybe the biggest reason for this is that (Laurent) Blanc isn't playing anymore."
Ronaldo vs. Ruud: The Rambling says: "Hi Mad Brit! Did you seen the match between Real Madrid and Manchester United on Wednesday? . . . Did you see how Ronaldo just tearing Barthez to pieces with his hat trick ? How can anyone said that (Ruud) van Nisterooy is better than him? Did van Nisterooy lead his team to the World Cup? Did he scored the winning goals for his team in the Finals? Did he win the Golden Boot? I rest my case.
"Ronaldo is currently THE best player in the world. And what is the case between Beckham and Sir Alex Ferguson? Keep up the good work and start to watch La Liga instead."
But how many goals has Ronaldo scored in the Champions League? Not as many as Ruud.
Heard a rumor, have a gripe or a tip? Feeling lonely? E-mail the Mad Brit at email@example.com.
Heard a rumor, have a gripe or a tip? Feeling lonely? E-mail the Mad Brit at firstname.lastname@example.org.