Beckham's Madrid move a boost for Eriksson
Posted: Thursday December 13, 2001 1:03 PM
Updated: Thursday June 19, 2003 3:38 PM
By Simon Hooper, SI.com
Even after weeks of transfer speculation, and several months of a simmering feud with coach Sir Alex Ferguson, the suddenness of David Beckham's move to Real Madrid came as a surprise.
With no transfer deadline in sight, these sagas usually stretch over the summer, a complicated negotiating triangle in which seller, buyer and player each try to work a deal in their favor while also trying to manipulate the media to their advantage.
In Beckham's case though, it seems that an early accord was reached. Once Manchester United had revealed its intention to sell and Beckham had made it known he would consider no other club but Real Madrid, two of the three protagonists had played their cards. All that was left was for Real to name its price.
By recent standards, the US$41 million that Madrid might eventually pay for Beckham is a pittance, especially since United gets just US$8 million up front. The English champion paid significantly more to Leeds for Rio Ferdinand a year ago.
But United is hardly short of cash and had more interest in concluding a deal quickly in order to divert attention and negotiating resources to tempting Ronaldinho and Leeds winger Harry Kewell to Old Trafford.
The timing of the announcement could not have been better for Beckham either. He stepped onto a plane in London on Monday evening as a Manchester United player and stepped off it Tuesday in Tokyo to launch an Asian publicity tour as Real's latest superstar, no doubt making an immediate dent in his transfer fee in Madrid merchandise sales.
Ironically, only Madrid has suffered from the speed of negotiations. Beckham's arrival at the club throws the future of several players into doubt. Luis Figo's fate at the club is uncertain, while Guti has already warned he could leave because of Beckham's arrival.
Yet Real's season isn't over. It needs to beat Athletic Bilbao on Sunday to win the Spanish title and -- perhaps -- save the job of coach Vicente Del Bosque. Club captain Fernando Hierro has complained that Beckham's signing has been an unwelcome distraction.
From a football perspective, the biggest beneficiary of Beckham's move aboard could be England. Real sporting director Jorge Valdano has already talked about Beckham as a "player in exile" on the right and hinted that Madrid may find space for him in the middle.
That, along with the experience of playing in the Spanish league and alongside teammates such as Zinedine Zidane and Raul, will undoubtedly make Beckham a more complete player.
"I wouldn't have done it if it would have affected my England career," said Beckham, who consulted England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson before deciding on his future.
Beckham's concerns were probably caused by the career of Steve McManaman, who has been frozen out of the England set-up despite playing the best football of his career in a Madrid shirt over the past few years. Yet McManaman, despite his virtues, has never performed consistently for England and has been a bit part player for Madrid in recent seasons.
And Eriksson must be delighted. One of the biggest problems he faces is that his entire team (with the exception of Bayern Munich's Owen Hargreaves) is drawn from the Premier League, which lags behind the leading continental leagues at a technical level.
If he succeeds in Spain, Eriksson will be able to build his team around Beckham's newly acquired continental sophistication in time for the Euro 2004 finals. More English players may even be encouraged to move abroad. And Eriksson no longer has to share his captain with Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson, a man from whom the cool Swede can expect few favors and for whom he holds little affection.
Manchester United's loss is England's gain.
Monaco wins appeal to stay in first division|
Monaco has been reinstated in the French first division after winning its appeal against relegation. The French League Cup winner, which finished second to Lyon in last season's championship to claim a place in next season's Champions League, was demoted in May with debts totaling more than US$58 million. But the French Football Federation's appeals committee overturned the decision on condition that Monaco imposes tight spending controls. "Justice has been done," Monaco sporting director Henri Biancheri said. "Monaco doesn't belong in division two. It's not because of a freak financial accident, which happens to many other clubs, that we should be condemned."
Heynckes set to coach Schalke 04|
Jupp Heynckes is returning to Germany to take charge at Gelsenkirchen's Schalke 04. The widely traveled coach, who won the European Cup at Real Madrid in 1998, will quit Spanish side Athletic Bilbao following its final game of the season Sunday against Real. The 58-year-old last worked in Germany at Eintracht Frankfurt in 1995, having previously coached Bayern Munich to two titles and launched his career at Borussia Moenchengladbach. Schalke finished seventh in the Bundesliga, sacking Frank Neubarth following a players' revolt that saw Belgian Marc Wilmots end the season as player-coach.
Spartak sacks Romantsev after 12 years|
Spartak Moscow has sacked long-serving coach Oleg Romantsev. The 49-year-old has been in charge at the club since 1991, guiding Spartak to nine Russian titles. But Spartak failed to qualify for the Champions League last season and has slumped to 13th in this season's championship. Club president Andrei Chervichenko said Romantsev had been "emotionally overtaxed and needs to take some kind of a vacation." But he will stay in charge for the final three matches of the first half of the season. Russian under-21 coach Andrei Chernyshov is Spartak's favored successor.
Madrid steals ahead for final weekend|
The final weekend of the Liga season sees Real Madrid poised to clinch its 29th league title following Real's 4-0 win over local rival Atletico Madrid and long-term leader Real Sociedad's faltering 3-2 loss at Celta Vigo last weekend. Los Galacticos need to beat Athletic Bilbao at the Bernabeu to be certain of claiming the title, but Real could be champion as long as it matches Sociedad's result against Atletico Madrid. Two points adrift, only a win is good enough for Raynald Denouiex's side, although Madrid coach Vicente Del Bosque is likely to be feeling the heat more: His future is set to be decided in a meeting Monday. Bilbao, unbeaten in 10 games, needs a win over Madrid to claim a place in next season's UEFA Cup. If it fails, Barcelona could sneak in, although it still has to beat Champions League-bound Celta Vigo.
||Jose Mourinho's side completed a perfect season with a 1-0 victory over Uniao Leira in the Portuguese Cup final Sunday, its third trophy of the season after lifting the UEFA Cup and the Portuguese title. Now the Champions League looms large.
Has anyone ever won an election on such a dubious manifesto pledge? Laporta's promise to bring David Beckham to Barcelona never looked plausible, but thousands of club members voted for the Spanish lawyer regardless in the hope that he could pull off a miracle. Having been humiliated by Beckham's decision to join archrival Real Madrid, Laporta needs to prove he is more than a skilled self-publicist.
Guti could quit Real over Beckham's arrival|
Don't expect Guti to be among David Beckham's welcoming party at Real Madrid. The Spanish midfielder says the English star's arrival could force him to quit the club he joined as a trainee. "I've suffered a lot of knocks. I'm a professional and I want to play football," Guti told El Mundo. "If I can't do it here, it will have to be somewhere else. All the doors are closing on me. I was improving as a midfielder and Zidane arrived. I was improving as a forward and Ronaldo arrived. I'm now in the national team as a midfielder and Beckham comes." As for a new home, the 26-year-old fancies Italy. "Rome, especially, and Milan are interesting places."
Real joins chase for Ronaldinho|
Manchester United could be in for a shock if it thinks David Beckham's departure has paved the way for Ronaldinho's arrival. L'Equipe reports that Real Madrid president Florentino Perez called Paris St. Germain president Francis Graille this week to ask about the Brazilian 23-year-old. Ronaldinho's agent also says that Barcelona, AC Milan and Inter Milan are interested. The World Cup winner has also expressed an admiration for Spanish football. "I look at all football that is played in Spain and it is La Liga that is most technical. It is a championship that I like the look of."
Kahn plans to quit, move upstairs in 2006|
German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn says he will retire from football after the 2006 World Cup finals and then hopes to succeed Uli Hoeness as Bayern Munich general manager. The 34-year-old told Sport-Bild: "2006 will be the end of my career. I can't imagine anyone better than me in Bayern's general manager role. There are few people who have poured their heart and soul into this club like me." Hoeness is also due to retire in 2006. Club president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said talks with Kahn would begin next year.
"Beckham is good-looking and I am ugly, but everyone has got a different kind of beauty."
-- Sounds like Ronaldinho has been on the phone to his mum.