The Real Madrid coach, Fabio Capello, suggested yesterday that David Beckham may have suffered psychologically from the decision by the England manager Steve McClaren to effectively call an end to his England career.
Speaking on Sky Sports 1, Capello said: "I think that Beckham is an outstanding professional. He always gives his best both in training and when he is playing. I firmly believe this. But you also have to keep in mind that a coach needs to have the overall picture in his head in order to achieve certain results. In Beckham's case, he has had bad times after being left out of England's national team.
"Those are moments which produce psychological difficulties. Now he's regaining all his composure. The other day in the Champions' League he played very well and now he seems to have become the Beckham we once knew. But I think the hardest test for him was to stop being captain of the England team."
Beckham's lack of playing time is causing him to delay a decision on whether to sign a new contract with Real. Beckham, who has started three games this season, has reportedly received an offer of a two-year extension to his current deal, which expires in June.
If he has not renewed by January, he will be free to negotiate with other clubs.
Given the opportunity to reassure Beckham that his future lies at the Bernabeu, Capello was unstinting in his praise. "I've always said he should be with us," the Italian said. "He is a unique professional. I love professionals, and not only professionals but also good players - two very important things."
Asked where he thought Beckham might best be deployed, he said: "Well, maybe the right of midfield, a winger, that is his best position. Not so much a winger, though, more a wide midfield player."
Like most of his counterparts at the game's elite level, Capello is committed to the rota system. "What I have to be sure of is that I am playing people I can trust and rotate the others. That's the way I look at it... but they are not fixed players, as you call them. I consider myself, as we say in Italy, to be a house builder.
"Right now I think we need to build the foundations of a house. Like a house, you need to build the foundations of a team first and at the end, the roof. Then you have the complete team. But if you don't start with a base, then it's really difficult to finish the job."
Beckham's team-mate, Ronaldo, came in for less than unstinting praise. "Ronaldo needs to improve his physical condition," Capello said. "Because after his operation, he was fat. Now he's losing weight. Not as much as I've asked him to... but he's really trying."Reuse content