Football: Beckham takes the heat off Yorke

THE PERSECUTION of David Beckham is obviously unpopular at Old Trafford, but one Manchester United player saw the positive side on Saturday. In ordinary circumstances Dwight Yorke, having become Britain's second most expensive British footballer two days previously, would have been the centre of attention at Upton Park. Instead the eyes of fans, pundits and especially security men were on Beckham as he underwent trial by ordeal.

This proved a blessing for Yorke because, while Beckham largely passed his test, which to West Ham's fans' credit was not as daunting as forecast, Yorke failed to make any impact whatsoever. Played alongside Cole in a central striking position he gave Neil Ruddock less grief than the former porker received from his local publican when he gave up the ale this summer.

Three times he had half-chances and each time the newly svelte Ruddock blocked his shot. The rest of the time he was anonymous and one suspected the only reason Cole was substituted instead in this 1-1 draw was to prevent a series of "Dwight Yorked" headlines.

To be fair, having only been introduced to his new team-mates on Friday, and never having played in the same side as any of them, it was hardly surprising that he was not on the same wavelength. All the same Manchester United did not seem to make the best use of his talents. In the first period, with Manchester looking to counter-attack as West Ham pushed forward with enthusiasm, he found himself chasing long hoofs from Peter Schmeichel against the height of Ruddock and the pace of Rio Ferdinand.

This was less of a problem in the second half as, with Roy Keane dominant, United took control with some neat midfield passing. Yet they remained unable to open up West Ham and the rearrangement of the side to include Yorke did seem a factor. Playing two up played into the hands of West Ham's customary defensive line-up of two markers and a sweeper while moving Ryan Giggs inside to take over Paul Scholes' creative responsibility left the visitors short of width.

Since they should have had a fourth-minute penalty after Ruddock handled Giggs' cross, and soon after carved out a good chance for Beckham from Denis Irwin's cross, this seemed misjudged. Giggs did threaten with his running but, as against LKS Lodz recently, often failed to release the ball.

There is a case for persevering with him in the centre and, with Jesper Blomquist soon fit the width may come from elsewhere, but it would presumably mean Nicky Butt joining Scholes on the sidelines.

On the right Beckham delivered a few useful crosses but is not a byline player. In truth he did not play that well but his test was of character and temperament not performance. He never hid and never reacted though he was often careless in possession and was sometimes provoked into over- ambition.

There were still enough touches of class to ensure Glenn Hoddle, who was at Upton Park, will recall him to the national colours once his two- match international suspension is served.

Taken together United were fitful but still the better side. A similarly patient and secure performance in Poland on Wednesday will be enough to ease them past Lodz and into the serious-money stages of the Champions' League. Jaap Stam, absent injured on Saturday, may be fit, but, even if he is not, Henning Berg played well enough to justify keeping his place. Of greater concern is the possible absence of Gary Neville who was outstanding until he departed with a knock.

Not that Alex Ferguson was happy. He did not speak to written or broadcast press and imposed a similar vow of silence on his players. They were also ordered into extra training yesterday. Proof, if Yorke needed any, that he has now joined a club with a different approach to the bulk of the Premiership.

West Ham's own ambitions seem, well, over-ambitious on this performance but they were limited by injuries. Harry Redknapp has thoughtfully strengthened his side - as the presence of three internationals on the bench illustrated - but they are not quite strong enough however to withstand concurrent injuries to Ian Wright, Paul Kitson and John Hartson (who played but was not fit).

As a result, after 44 goals in 17 pre-season friendlies and another at Hillsborough last week, they were negligible as an attacking force. Schmeichel was seriously troubled just once, after 42 minutes, when he was relieved to see Eyal Berkovic shoot over after he could only parry Frank Lampard's drive.

By contrast Cole may have scored at the far post if not for Ruddock's unseen handball and would have done after 29 and 40 minutes, but for two good saves by Shaka Hislop.

The game, never exciting, gradually dulled to the point where the home support could barely a muster a boo for Beckham. As last week he almost had the last laugh, ex-Spur Teddy Sheringham, their other bete noir, putting a flashing header just over from Beckham's late free-kick. Now that might have caused a reaction.

West Ham United (3-5-2): Hislop; Pearce, Ferdinand, Ruddock; Impey, Lampard, Lomas, Berkovic (Abou, 72), Lazaridis; Hartson, Sinclair. Substitutes not used: Keller, Moncur, Margas, Forrest (gk).

Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; G Neville (P Neville, 53), Johnsen, Berg, Irwin; Beckham, Keane, Butt, Giggs; Cole (Sheringham, 70), Yorke. Substitutes not used: May, Scholes, Culkin (gk).

Referee: P Jones (Loughborough).

Bookings: West Ham: Hartson, Berkovic, Lazaridis. Manchester United: Johnsen.

Man of the match: Keane.

Attendance: 26,039.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
Life and Style
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions