Nothing can come as close to an admission of Beckham's failure to ignite US football as one of his team mates ripping him to shreds for his lack of commitment. A number of football pundits had voiced their skepticism about this move from the day he landed, including us. Yes, we have anointed ourselves as pundits. You can take it up with this blog's ombudsman.
Today, Landon Donovan who had harsh words to say of Beckham backtracked a bit in an interview with the LA Times. Not as in words came out wrong. But as in these sentiments should have been expressed to Beckham himself and not to Grant Wahl, SI's reporter who wrote The Beckham Experiment, the novel in which Donovan unloads on the superstar.
"Maybe he's not a leader, maybe he's not a captain. Fair enough. But at a minimum you should bust your ass every day. I don't think that's too much for us to expect. But that hasn't happened."
The relationship between the LA Galaxy's emotional leader and the most expensive player in MLS history began to unravel.
"At the end of the day, they didn't respect each other, they didn't like each other, they didn't talk to each other," Alexi Lalas, the Galaxy's former president and general manager, told Wahl. "And they merely tolerated each other on the field."
Donovan plans to have a man to man with Beckham and explain his side and hopefully the Englishman who went off to Milan under Carlo Ancelotti on a short term loan will patch up with him and recommit to the team on his return.
It won't happen. If it was a matter of a simple question of commitment and leadership that would be one thing but this is fundamental breach of trust because Donovan's criticism extends to Beckham making money and attracting attention which have little to do with the game. This forms the crux of the fallout.
"For people who know soccer, they know the reason he makes the money and he gets the attention is not necessarily based on soccer," he said of Beckham.
Basically Donovan is calling Beckham a fraud. He articulated what many did not want to say. A team mate saying it makes it even more damaging. A corollary to that would be, there is very little incentive for Beckham to pick up the pieces again if his raison d'etre is questionable. But Beckham is exactly that. The followers of the game know that. Not the drive bys who saw a match for the first time just to follow a media phenomenon. Beckham's desire was unmatched first at Man Utd and then at Real but his MLS relationship is an abusive one. We saw him taking advantage by disappearing to Milan. It will be hard to change that.