Beckham inclusion inevitable, but is it right?
Hindsight is a funny thing to experience, funnier to comment on. Yet it seemed on the horizon in the days and performances post David Beckham's exclusion from Steve McClaren's England XI preference that Beckham would be recalled. I felt it was McClaren's intention to withdraw the captaincy from Beckham to give to either John Terry or Steven Gerrard, and he communicated this to Beckham prior to the WC QF against Portugal, if not sooner. I say it was before that game. Hence why Beckham was off-key during that game and subsequently was withdrawn due to illness and eventually vomiting on the pitch. Also hence the decision to step down rather than have the media report he had the captaincy taken from him, I always wondered why would he step down but still play for England? Why not continue as captain if you intend to play?
As Beckham's exclusion echoed on through English football, McClaren got on with selecting either the interim role of Gerrard or including Aaron Lennon on the right wing. At this time Joe Cole was on the left with Stewart Downing not impressing for England, and I felt Beckham's exclusion also paved the way for both Gerrard and Frank Lampard playing at the same time. It did in a sense but it didn't have both players in their preferred role. Nonetheless Lennon went on to produce his work rate down the wings which did not bore fruit as expected while Gerrard more or less floated in and out of his right wing role against the Israelis. The right side needed a Beckham-Lennon player, combination of pace and delivery and the eye for defence-splitting passing. Beckham has some pace and delivery and can pass the ball. So too can Lennon but his delivery is questionable, so in essence Beckham is the right person for the right side.
So in hindsight it seemed inevitable Beckham would be recalled because other than Lennon and the now-and-then choice of Gerrard on the right which should only be used in an emergency, there is no one else for the role. David Bentley has been appealing for a first XI start but is not good enough yet while Lennon is out injured anyway. Lampard and Gerrard will probably come in with Owen Hargreaves holding, and with this I would consider 3-5-2, as long as England have two strikers. OR consider my approach which would have one central defender doing an ad-hoc holding role in that 3-5-2, dropping back under attack beside Terry. Ferdinand and Matt Dawson are out, so potentially Phil Neville at right-back, Terry centre with Wayne Bridge on the left (subject to a fitness test, failing which it will probably be Nicky Shorey of Reading), Ledley King/Jamie Carragher in that ad-hoc role.
The 3-5-2 accommodates for Lampard and Gerrard and this time round with Gary Neville, Micah Richards, Ferdinand, Dawson and Ashley Cole unavailable, seems suitable to deploy. With Beckham back it has to be 3-5-2, leaving little to the 4-4-2 that most feel, including myself, England are better with. With Neville and co to return when fit, I wonder which formation McClaren will use. If he was brave enough to drop Beckham, he may well have to repeat such bravery with another household name.