Beckham says United 'can handle pressure'

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David Beckham, the former Manchester United midfielder, has backed his old club to "come out fighting" following the recent criticism of Sir Alex Ferguson.

United bowed out of the Champions' League last week and were booed off following a 1-1 draw with Everton at Old Trafford at the weekend.

Ferguson claimed on Tuesday that "sticking together is the key for us" after insisting that "sections of the media" were trying to "fragment" the club.

But Beckham, who famously fell out with the Scot before his move to Real Madrid in 2003, insists United's recent problems do not suddenly make Ferguson a bad manager.

"From what I know of the manager from my time at Manchester United, the pressure drives him and the team on, that's what Manchester United is all about," said the England captain. "When they're under pressure they come out fighting.

"Manchester United are different to here. I've had six coaches here in three years but just one at Manchester. I'm sure he'll handle the pressure very well.

"I think the fans at Manchester United are amazing and they have always supported the team. Sir Alex has been there so many years and won so many things that he'll be the only one to make a decision. People have to respect what he's done.

"It's a tough time at Manchester United because Chelsea are playing so well, but he hasn't got that mentality of walking away from situations and he will still believe that his team can win the League.

"What has happened recently doesn't make him a bad manager because he's won so many things, but as I've seen here, things do change at clubs."

Beckham also insists that England have not been handed an easy draw for the World Cup finals in Germany next summer.

Sven Goran Eriksson's men have been pitted against the Swede's home nation, Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago in the group stages.

"It could have been worse but it's still difficult," Beckham said. "I don't think it's easy. All games in the finals are difficult and we'll have to work hard.

"This is my third World Cup and I'm proud to lead the team into this one. Everyone dreams of playing in the finals and I'm looking forward to it. If we work hard, play good football and have some good luck we can go a long way."

Beckham believes the four semi-finalists in Germany will be "us, Spain - I have to say that - Brazil and France."

Beckham also said he was impressed by the tactical knowledge and tough training regime of Real's caretaker coach, Juan Ramon Lopez Caro. Beckham said he was taken by surprise when Real sacked Wanderley Luxemburgo this month but hopes Lopez Caro will stay for a while.

"This coach is clearly an intelligent and special person so we'll have to see what happens and I hope he lasts a little longer. Training is very hard and this coach is very strong on tactics.

"He has come up through the second team and is used to working with Spanish players and I think it showed in the game we won last week against Malaga.

"We may be tired in the next few games, but I think we will benefit. This is the sort of work I want to do, I enjoy it and I like working hard."

Real, who are third in the table six points behind Barcelona, play joint leaders Osasuna in their next match in La Liga at the Bernabeu on Sunday.

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