Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
| Help

Last Updated: Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Should Beckham stay or go?
By Tom Fordyce

His body language in the aftermath of Manchester United's defeat said it all: David Beckham is tempted by Real Madrid.

David Beckham sits on the ground after defeat by Real Madrid
Beckham sits grounded after defeat on Wednesday night
At the end of a game where he was allowed just a brief - if explosive - cameo role, Beckham took off his United shirt and waved to the fans.

Was it a way of saying goodbye? Rumour has it that a deal between the two clubs is a very real possibility.

Bookmakers are offering odds of 11-4 on Beckham signing for another club before the first Premiership match of next season, and there are now Real shirts on sale outside the Bernabeu with 'Beckham' printed on the back.

Should United cash in now while the world's richest club are still interested - or would they be insane to sell their biggest star of all?

Let him go

Alex Ferguson's relationship with Beckham is at its lowest point since the 14-year-old boy from east London first arrived at Old Trafford.

Forget the bust-up over the flying boot - that was an accident which left only brief physical scars.

Of far greater importance is the fact that Ferguson chose to leave Beckham out of his starting line-up for the two most important games of United's season so far - away at Arsenal nine days ago and last night's showdown with Real.

This is not the same as giving your star name a mid-season rest against some of the Premiership's lesser lights; it suggests a fear that the player is no longer as key as he once was.


Ferguson is rumoured to have been less than impressed with the way Beckham has come off against Roberto Carlos whenever the pair have gone head to head.

Whether that justifies leaving the England captain out of the side altogether is another matter. Most judges would have rather played Beckham in the midfield role so wasted by the unfit Juan Veron on Wednesday night, but Ferguson chose to not even do that.

United are in need of youthful inspiration throughout their team. Selling Beckham to Real - who, as their recent record shows, will pay what is needed to get the player they want - would free up around 30m for Ferguson bring in fresh talent.

Beckham has been at United for over a decade. In that time he has served with distinction - but no player, no matter how special, can stay at a club forever.

Could this summer be the right time for Beckham to go - for all concerned?

Make him stay

To lose the brightest star in the Old Trafford firmament would be nothing short of folly for United.

Beckham is United through and through. This is no football mercenary, content to pick up big wages in return for occasionally turning it on.

Alex Ferguson scratches his chin
Ferguson faces one of the biggest decisions of his career

He cares about the club as much as a fan - because, as a boy that is exactly what he was.

Beckham's workrate and desire are immense. He is a footballer blessed with natural ability who also realised at a young age that talent is nothing without application and practice.

He is also a model professional, never caught drinking before a game, obsessed with self-improvement and driven by the pursuit of trophies.

You might not like his haircuts or clothes, but the by-product of that is that his image is one of the most marketable across the globe of any sportsman still competing.

In both footballing and financial terms, Beckham is essential to United's future.

Can you really blame him for United's failure to overcome Real, when in the first leg all but Ruud van Nistelrooy was below par, and in the return leg Beckham scored twice in the 27 minutes he was given and almost inspired an unlikely United revival?

To sell him at a time when the transfer market is depressed would be folly. And where would the money be spent?

Ferguson might be able to pick up Damien Duff and Simon Davies. Would either of them have the same gift for turning key games as Beckham?



E-mail services | Sport on mobiles/PDAs


Back to top

Sport Homepage | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League | Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Snooker | Horse Racing | Cycling | Disability sport | Olympics 2012 | Sport Relief | Other sport...

BBC Sport Academy >> | BBC News >> | BBC Weather >>
About the BBC | News sources | Privacy & Cookies Policy | Contact us
banner watch listen bbc sport