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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 May 2007, 06:18 GMT 07:18 UK
Lineker on Beckham and England
Gary Lineker
By Gary Lineker
BBC football presenter and England legend

David Beckham
Beckham has been in sparkling form for Real Madrid

David Beckham's triumphant return to the England squad may be the move that rescues England's Euro 2008 qualifying bid and helps Steve McClaren save his job.

It's a massive turnaround by the England boss to pick him again as he is no different a player now than he was seven or eight months ago.

When he was dropped and people were saying it was the end of Beckham, I always thought if results went badly there would be such a clamour for his return.

And that's exactly what's happened.

McClaren has probably realised that if you've got world-class players around, you should pick them for as long as you can.

And David is a world-class player.

We tend to dispose of our top performers a bit early sometimes.

The problem is that we tend get a little bit complacent and take them for granted.

People start to look for a little bit more all the time without realising how difficult it is to be a top-class player in international football.

We only really miss them when they aren't there and that's certainly been the case with Beckham and also the injured Michael Owen.

The one thing about Beckham is that he has always been a very good pro, not only a top-class player, but a bloke who works hard, trains hard, and gives 100% when he plays.

What's been wrong with England is that they simply haven't played enough aggressive, attacking football

Gary Lineker

No, I don't think he has quite got the zip he once had three of four years ago, but he has plenty of know-how and nous.

He is always going to be a quality player, but whether he is the long-term answer for England is effectively a 'no', as he will virtually be in semi-retirement when he moves to America.

I had a similar thing when I went to Japan, but I had already announced my retirement from international football as I didn't think it was fair and I didn't think it would work.


I imagine the same will be true of David somewhere down the line, but we will see.

England have it all to do if they are going to qualify for the European Championship next year.

What I'd like to see in the friendly against Brazil and then the crucial qualifier against Estonia on Wednesday is an end to the negative football that's blighted the team of late.

What's been wrong with England is they simply haven't played enough aggressive, attacking football.

The era of Sven-Goran Eriksson was very negative and McClaren unfortunately seems to be following in his footsteps.

The way the team has played I believe is the reason why people say that Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard can't play together in midfield.

I think that's nonsense.

The reason it hasn't worked is because we have played without a striker looking to get in behind defences and we haven't spent enough time in the opposition's half, so the main strengths of those players hasn't been used.

Michael Owen
Michael Owen's return to fitness is a big boost for England

We need a shift - there's a lot of negative football in the world at the moment and we need to change that and really have a go at teams.

It's our style, we have to play football like a Premiership side.

We can't go and play a game that's alien to us, we've shown in the Champions League that our teams can do well and the national team have to show a similar attacking verve.

I can't see the point of McClaren trying players out for the future against Brazil.

He must choose his first choice XI and get some familiarity between them ahead of the game in Estonia which is so important.

It's great to have Michael Owen back as we have really missed him.

I definitely wouldn't start him up front with Peter Crouch as I see the Liverpool striker purely as a last 15 minutes man.

Crouch is another of those who plays towards his own goal and we've got to get back to playing in a positive manner.

We know Brazil will certainly play positively.

They are such attractive opposition and it really is a must-see game.

It's a great opener for England to have after a seven-year absence from Wembley and it should be a fascinating encounter.

There's no doubt the new Wembley has the 'wow' factor and I'm sure all the players will love playing there.

  • Watch England v Brazil live on BBC ONE on Friday 1 June from 1930 BST.

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