It finally seems that all of the rampant David Beckham talk that dominated headlines leading up to the 2009 MLS season has died down. Every rational MLS fan has accepted that Becks most likely won't be in the States beyond 2009, and we've moved on.
We weren't quite jilted at the altar, but as soon as the honeymoon finished up, Becks took us aside and said, "Look, we need to talk..."
To be completely honest, I don't care if Beckham returns from Milan at all. If he ends up returning to MLS, it's just going to be a sham. Are we really supposed to believe that three more months with the league's most dysfunctional team are going to tug at his heartstrings? If you answered "yes" to that, you're only kidding yourself.
Nobody in MLS seems terribly preoccupied with Beckham's plans for the next season, which is actually pretty comforting. Many months ago, I wrote an article comparing the debacle that was the NASL to the current state of affairs in MLS. I was always secretly worried about what sort of effect losing Beckham would have on the league, but those fears have been allayed.
Pele was brought in to be a savior. Beckham was brought in to be a star player.
A league can absorb the loss of a star. A league can't absorb the loss of a savior.
That seems to be why the chatter has stopped. People are recognizing that the league is just losing a star, a player that wasn't even the face of the league. We've pre-emptively severed our ties so that we don't find ourselves clutching at straws when the end of the season rolls around.
It's amazing to see how quickly the excitement has turned to apathy, and in some cases, disgust. Former Toronto FC coach John Carver didn't like the gulf in economic class that Beckham's arrival created. One can only imagine how some of the fringe players felt about the situation.
I can't help but wonder if this same situation will manifest itself in Milan. Carlo Ancelotti is after Beckham's services now, but the world of top flight football has a high rate of turnover and Milan's roster is full of talent. Where will Beckham be at the end of the 2009-2010 season?
For one, he'll be 35 years old. Not exactly the prime of his career, or even the end of the prime of his career. Thirty-five is old for any athlete, especially one who has put his body through the rigors of so many seasons and countless miles of travel.
It gets difficult to imagine Beckham staying healthy while at Milan, and in turn staying in favor. He suffered plenty of injury problems in MLS, and the highly physical nature of the league probably put a few extra miles on his odometer. What happens when he is forced to sit out for a lengthy spell and a younger play takes his spot?
That's where 'Arry Redknapp comes in?
The Tottenham boss has expressed an interest in Beckham, but Milan to Tottenham is not a lateral move. Milan offers the allure of European competition, while Tottenham promises endless dysfunction and disappointment.
Even five years ago, anybody caught perpetuating such a rumour would have found themselves turfed to the psych ward quicker than you could say "Bobby Moore." Beckham seemed quite content at Real Madrid, one of the biggest clubs in the universe. Now, you've got to stop and think, "Well, Tottenham could use some experience and leadership...plus he'd get a lot of playing time."
While watching ESPN's Champions League highlight show this afternoon, I heard one of the pundits mention Chelsea as a possible destination for Beckham, and had to laugh. Does this guy realize that Chelsea has younger and more capable players at every position these days?
Interesting that a player who's arrival in MLS was considered a major coup now draws raised eyebrows when linked with Europe's elite.
Some MLS fans might miss you, Becks, but don't expect anybody to shed any tears when the season comes to an end.