Saturday, 13 January 2007

Cruel and unusual punishment

In what is possibly Fabio Capello's most erratic decision so far (and there have been a few), the Italian manager declared in a press conference that David Beckham would no longer play for Real Madrid. "Beckham will train with the team but he won't play. A player who has such an important contract with another club, we cannot count on him."

Frankly, this is bonkers. Granted, Beckham has not featured heavily in Capello's plans so far this season, although the manager did say that he had asked for his contract to be renewed. But from that to deny the possibility of any more playing time in a long and potentially difficult season is shooting yourself in the foot. From January 1st, the former England captain was perfectly entitled to negotiate with whomever he wished; Real Madrid asked him to make up his mind quickly, so he did. For the manager to then say that this means they cannot count on him means that every player who has 6 months or less left on their contract is not to be trusted by their current clubs. This is patently ridiculous.

Which means that Capello has either gone nuts, wants to get fired, or has been asked by the management to make this announcement to push Beckham towards leaving the club earlier than planned (the new MLS season starts in April), thus saving Real Madrid a hefty chunk of his salary for the year (let's face it, they're not going to recoup it selling Beckham shirts, are they?). I wonder which one is closest to the truth?

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