Politicians take note: the world would be a better place if we all could bend the truth like Beckham.
At a press conference in the Galaxy’s El Segundo training camp, David Beckham decided to responded to teammate Landon Donovan’s comments by calling the Galaxy captain “unprofessional.” Check out the full video here.
Amazing. Becks skilfully hit and missed the point in the same sentence. The English international correctly pointed out how unprofessional it was to call out a teammate through the media without prior confrontation, and then, using those same words, calls out Donovan's professionalism to the media without prior confrontation.
In other news, the pot just called the kettle black.
But wait, it gets better. When asked if the Galaxy’s criticisms of his captaincy were valid, he said:
“Again, no, because I’ve played for England for 13 years and captained my country 50 times and not one of those players, top players in Europe, has ever criticized me as a captain… I’ve always been known as a different captain to other players and other captains that I’ve played with. You know, I’m not a Roy Keane; I’m not a Brian Robson. I’m not a captain that goes and shouts at players. I go and talk to players but I play, personally, by leading by example. It’s not always about organizing maintenance.”
This point has been repeated by Beckham supporters throughout the saga: top players in Europe (read: not Landon Donovan the jealous nobody) have all said David Beckham is a great captain, albeit a different one who keeps his head down and leads by example.
And this point is equally irrelevant.
David Beckham deftly curls his answer away from the primary point of the question: whether or not the Galaxy players had a point in calling out Beckham as captain. Instead, he presents a laundry list of previous popularity contests won as captain with England as if that somehow validates his mailed-in performance last summer, where he led a divided Galaxy to second-to-last in the MLS.
This answer’s effectiveness is much like Becks’ effectiveness as Galaxy captain: aloof, frustrating, and ultimately without commitment to the task at hand.
And it’s not like Beckham was under any illusions that American soccer culture resembled its European counterparts. After all, he came to Los Angeles with a distinct mission to revolutionize the MLS and soccer’s image in America.
He should have known that charge comes the responsibility to use his marketability to promote soccer in America. That because America has a different culture and style of soccer athlete, perhaps another, “organizing maintenance” leadership style could win the confidence of his teammates.
But perhaps he was too busy promoting soccer and leading his team by being seen courtside at more Lakers games than Galaxy fixtures.
Maybe he was promoting the beautiful game while having breakfast with Hollywood stars and providing cameos on his wife’s reality show.
Perhaps he was hawking Galaxy shirts and MLS brochures in England while serving a one-match suspension instead of supporting his team and league by showing up to the Galaxy’s and Houston Dynamo’s biggest game of the year.
For emphasizing his “leadership by example” rhetoric during the interview, Becks sure does not have a lot to show for his words. Perhaps the next question in the interview could shed more light on this. When asked if he would do anything different this year, he coyly answered:
“No, not one thing. Apart from going to more games. That’d be nice.”
Perhaps that was supposed to portray confidence, but it sure sounded foolish: Becks won’t give up the armband on a side that clearly has no confidence in his leadership abilities. And if he’d like to go to more games, he could have shown up to Galaxy fixtures after the Serie A season ended on May 30th, after which time the Galaxy had played five matches.
Ultimately, Landon Donovan has clearly won this war of words. Beckham would be good to swallow some humble pie before having that private conversation with his captain.
But Becks can surely spin himself a good story to save face.