David Beckham’s red card in the last minute of Paris Saint-Germain’s 1-1 draw with Evian in Ligue 1 on Sunday night is being blown out of proportion. Having only been on the field for six minutes, the Englishman saw red immediately for an overzealous challenge on Youssef Adnane. This after Marco Verratti had seen red only nine minutes earlier.
However, Beckham’s red card is no big deal for manager Carlo Ancelotti’s side. In fact, it further underlines the limited contribution he has made since arriving in the French capital in January.
Currently, the club is debating whether or not to extend the 37(almost 38)-year-old’s contract past this summer, allowing Beckham himself to consider whether he should go for another season of football or for retirement.
On the verge of their first French title in 19 years, the club arguably have little use for Beckham now, despite his high value off the pitch. The red card against Evian and its circumstances demonstrate what has become symptomatic of the former England international as he struggles to impose himself upon the PSG side.
Beckham has become a frayed, haggard player who, although certainly not out of his depth technically, struggles to keep up with the pace of French domestic football. In his eagerness to prove that he has not lost any of his shine and in his desire to go out of football with a bang, he has become prone to bouts of frustration and exasperation when things go awry.
His foul on Adnane against Evian demonstrates exactly that, and it is not the first instance. Beckham gets brought on for a short space of time by Ancelotti to do a job—in this case, to shore up the midfield in Verratti’s absence—and, in trying to prove a point, he overstretches himself.
That has perhaps been his biggest problem in the French capital: He thinks he has a point to prove.
Beckham, in fact, has nothing to prove on the pitch for PSG. All he needs to do is perform at a high level for a limited amount of time. His greatest asset to Ancelotti’s side is his experience, and that experience should be telling him to just put in a steady performance to ensure a result.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have that effect, and Beckham appears keen to prove time and again that he is still young and lively, living up to the image he has away from the pitch. Instead, we see a player who looks aggressive and gets into petty arguments by flying into rash challenges for the sake of being involved in the match.
Beckham, with his experience, should know that he does not even necessarily need to touch the ball often to set a good example to his younger teammates. Maintaining a regulated level of performance, not letting his team of coach down and providing a mature, positive influence when on the pitch should be his priority.
Instead, he seems to be over-involving himself and getting caught up in physical battles that were not his to instigate in the first place.
Admittedly the red card against Evian was harsh in that Beckham made little contact with Adnane. However, it was the rashness of the tackle that alerted referee Olivier Thual, not the contact itself. The Englishman flew in with a malicious-looking challenge right under the referee’s nose. What did he expect to happen?
In a game already tense because of a number of controversial decisions, not least a disallowed Evian goal, that was the last thing that Beckham should have done and it was wholly unnecessary.
But the veteran’s absence as he serves a suspension will hardly be noticed. That is because Beckham’s impact has now become so minimal because of this tendency and Ancelotti’s consequent lack of use, that he has contributed towards impairing his own ability to retire at the top of his profession.
Beckham has never been an aggressive, petty player, but his physical shortcomings were always going to be exposed by the physicality of a competition like Ligue 1.
On the pitch PSG are fine without Beckham, but off it they need him, or at least they should. That said, after his performance on Sunday, amidst all the other chaos in Evian, it seems like the Englishman is one of the members of Ancelotti’s side that most needs a dressing down.