It seems that the first big story of the 2011 soccer season is the pending loan agreement between Tottenham Hotspur of the English Premier League and the LA Galaxy of the MLS. The deal would take former England captain David Beckham back to his London hometown for a couple of months until the Galaxy’s season starts up again in March. Many people have lauded this development as a positive step for all parties concerned, but, for me, it’s only a good deal for Tottenham, and no-one else.
The deal itself comes as a bit of a surprise given that the LA Galaxy had stated publicly that they would not allow Beckham, nor their other international star, Landon Donovan, to go out on loan in the US offseason. Donovan himself stated that he would be staying home to rest his body as he had been playing regularly for 2 years without any kind of lengthy break. Beckham however, still garners ambitions to play in the Euro 2012 European Championships next summer, and with Fabio Capello’s insistence that his players be match fit before being eligible to play for him, Beckham had to find a team. A couple of clubs had tentatively offered him a spot to train with their first team squads but as yet, no-one had stepped forward. Enter Harry Redknapp.
Redknapp’s Tottenham team has blazed a ferocious trail through both the Premier League this year as well as in the UEFA Champions League. They currently lie in 4th place only five points from the top of the table behind both Manchester clubs. They finished top of their Group in the Champions League following two stunning performances against title holders Inter Milan, culminating in a 3-1 hammering for the Italians at White Hart Lane. Their style of play is fast paced, counter attacking, and with players like Van Der Vaart and Modric running the midfield, they are a tough team to handle.
Herein lies the problem for David Beckham, and ultimately the LA Galaxy. When AC Milan took on the England man last season for his second stint, he was a starter in that aging midfield of theirs. Also, and probably more importantly, Serie A is a more pedestrian type league where pace is a secondary benefit, and attacks take longer to develop. As a result, older players tend to be able to survive with the younger stars. Not so in England. The physical and fast paced nature of the Premier League makes it a graveyard for older outfield players to compete. Beckham no longer has the legs for the end to end movement especially, with the speed and intensity that Tottenham have. Additionally, Beckham played on the right with AC Milan, and at times, was allowed to move inside, with some freedom to roam. At Tottenham, if he plays on the right, he will be taking Aaron Lennon’s spot, which makes no sense as he is their fastest player and provides all the service for Defoe and Crouch. he won’t play in the middle for obvious reasons, and Bale is going nowhere. This effectively makes Beckham, an occasional bench substitute barring injuries, which defeats the purpose of the loan in the first place.
Looking at the Galaxy’s exposure here, they obvioulsy don’t want a repeat of last season when Beckham’s career was almost ended with a horrible achilles tendon tear that took nine months to recover from. It is reasonable to conclude that in a more physical league, that he would be more susceptible to injury, which Galaxy fans would be up in arms about, again. His fitness is crucial to their success next season and with Donovan showing loyalty to his club, if anything should happen to Beckham again, it would be rough year back in the US when he finally returned.
As I see it, the only winners here are Tottenham. They get an extra player without having to splash out a huge transfer fee, although Beckham’s wages are substantial. They also get his marketing circus which would propel Tottenham to the forefront of soccer in the US for a two month period. I would expect the North London club to arrange some sort of Western US tour within a year or so if this deal goes through. David Beckham’s experience on the training ground will be invaluable to their younger players such Bale, Lennon, Jenas, and Huddlestone. Truth be told, Tottenham can hardly lose with a deal of this type. Chairman Levy has already promised the fans that a big signing is imminent in the January window, so this will fill that requirement.
To sum up, my view is that the deal will go through and that Tottenham will do very well, both financially and other wise, but that Beckham will struggle to impress, and that he will only get occasional cameo performances. It will amount to no more than a farewell tour for him to effectively say goodbye to the fans who have followed him since those heady days as a boy up in Manchester. His England days need to be over now but no-one has the courage to tell him in the right manner.
However, Beckham has proved me wrong in the past. I hope he does again.