Two quality performances for Real Madrid (with a red card to spice things up) and already tongues are wagging about Beckham’s potential return to the England squad.
But there’s more than just the tie in Israel and Euro 2008 qualification at stake, even if its the most important thing in England’s calendar right now.
Is Beckham better than his replacements?
Beckham has done more in two matches for Real Madrid than Shaun Wright-Phillips has done all season for Chelsea. He is an impact player who inevitably has a hand in the goals his team scores because of his ability to provide killer passes. He’s even learned to head the ball (well, he always could) and is ever-willing to track back and cover the right-back or in central midfield.
Aaron Lennon is one who should definitely be in the squad, but he’s the only natural right-winger available to England. Steven Gerrard is playing out of position as an effort to choose the best players instead of the best team.
So yes, Beckham should be in the team, at the very least as second-choice on the right-wing. Whether he’s better than Lennon or not is a different argument – both bring different qualities to the table and ideally would be used for different purposes.
Do England need Beckham?
Desperately. England need match-winners, not half-players and prima donnas. If your key players are out of form and you have a do-or-die match coming up, what do you do?
Bring back another on-form key player who can win you games, or persist with failures?
Will Beckham play in Euro 2008?
I’d hesitate before putting him in the final squad for Euro 2008, mainly because I’d want to see his form before deciding, and the fact that Beckhan would be playing in LA Galaxy for a whole season before the tournament means that he would not be playing in the same quality of competition as before and that will count against him. I think Beckham took this into account as he took up the LA Galaxy offer – he knew it was over.
Does it matter though? Right now England need to win in Israel – it will be a scrappy match and England will need all the experience and quality that they can muster.
There are few options other than Becks who bring those two qualities to the table for England.
Headless chickens running around in England’s cause don’t do much for hope, you know what I mean?
Can England win without Beckham?
Yes, but will Steve McClaren make the necessary changes to his starting lineup and his playing mentality to make it happen?
I doubt it.
Also read Owen Hargreaves’ column for this week in the BBC where he talks a bit about Beckham.