Beckham'd prove critics wrong: England coach

England coach Steve McClaren tried to dispel rumors that David Beckham is unhappy in the United States.

updated: November 12, 2007 17:24 IST
  • Total Shares

Manchester, England:

England coach Steve McClaren tried to dispel rumors that David Beckham is unhappy in the United States, and said the Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder is eager to prove his American critics wrong next season.

"I read a couple of things about him over there not enjoying the life and not enjoying the experience," said McClaren.

McClaren dashed over to California last weekend to assess the 32-year-old Beckham's fitness and motivation ahead of a crucial European Championship qualifier. "I couldn't find that further from the truth.

"He loves it over there, he's settled there, his kids are in great schools and he's got a great lifestyle."

Beckham's arrival in California was trumpeted with massive fanfare and hype, but many fans quickly became disillusioned when the English star sat out much of the season with a bad ankle and sprained knee.

He played just five league games, scoring one goal on a trademark free kick.

"He's got a lot to prove over there and in fact he was disappointed being injured in his first season so he's looking forward," McClaren said.

Beckham and Spice Girl wife Victoria might be mixing with Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, but McClaren said it didn't seem like his player is engulfed by the celebrity culture.

"No, because he's got a quieter lifestyle ... over there now to what he had before (in Europe)," McClaren said.

McClaren himself is facing a barrage of criticism in the British press and could be jobless if England fails to qualify for next summer's Euro 2008 tournament.

He's hoping Beckham's experience can help the team get a win against Croatia in its last qualifier at Wembley on November 21 - although even that may not be enough if other results don't go England's way.

Beckham's inclusion in the squad - despite still lacking match fitness - continues a recent comeback to international play for the former Manchester United and Real Madrid star.

One of the first things McClaren did when succeeding Sven-Goran Eriksson after the 2006 World Cup was to drop Beckham, who captained England in three major tournaments, believing fresh blood should be allowed to prosper.

"It was a hard decision, but I thought it was for the benefit of the team," McClaren recalled. "I felt players could come in and take over that mantle on the right hand side. I didn't find that was the case."

With new talent struggling, Beckham was recalled in May to revive the qualification campaign.

He played a decisive role in Estonia, as well as featuring in friendlies against Brazil and Germany before his injuries kept him out of four matches in September and October.

"The impact that he made in the summer, he has failed to capitalize on that and he wants to. So he is itching to prove these injuries are out," McClaren said. "He knows he needs to be fitter."

Beckham has been putting in extra training hours and is likely to be tested in a friendly against Austria in Vienna on Friday before McClaren decides on the Croatia lineup.