/ 7 September 2005

Beckham backs coach for World Cup glory

England’s under-fire coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has received the backing of David Beckham, who is optimistic it will be third time lucky when England strive for glory in the 2006 World Cup finals.

Eriksson has come in for heavy criticism in recent weeks after the inept performance in the 4-1 friendly defeat to Denmark and an unconvincing victory over Wales in Cardiff in Saturday’s World Cup qualifier with a new-look 4-5-1 system.

But Beckham is adamant Eriksson is still the right man to carry the hopes of the nation on his shoulders in Germany next summer after falling at the quarterfinal hurdle in the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004.

Beckham, who will lead England out against Northern Ireland in Wednesday’s qualifier, said: ”This is the manager’s third tournament in charge and, for me, it could be third time lucky. The players are confident in the manager, and that’s the most important thing.

”He has got confidence in the team he picks and the squad he has at his disposal, and we are all together.

”Yes, we have been disappointed where we have come in the last two big competitions, when we went out in the last eight, but hopefully this will be the one we can go further in. That’s what we are looking for.”

Beckham defended Eriksson’s decision to alter formations in the Millennium Stadium when Wayne Rooney was employed as the only out-and-out striker in the 1-0 win over Wales.

He believes it is vital to have the know-how to be able to change tactics in mid-match.

”Different formations are important to have at the disposal of top teams, especially in the big competitions,” he said.

”We came up against Wales on Saturday, but maybe we will come up against Brazil, Germany or Argentina where we do have to change our formation when maybe things aren’t working with 4-4-2.

”By trying out things in other games, then the manager will have got some ideas for different formations, if they are required, and that’s what big teams have to have.”

Beckham also believes England now have the attacking talent to win the big World Cup matches.

”We have got incredible talent that can win us a game like that with the likes of Rooney, Owen, Gerrard, Wright-Phillips, Joe Cole etc.”

And he deflected critics of his new central midfield role.

”I never will be a Claude Makelele or Roy Keane because they are stoppers. I am not like that. But if I am still in the position, I will work hard to get to a level like that,” the 30-year-old said.

”Even if I am pressurised, I believe I have got the ability to get out of situations. I have always had the belief in my own ability.” — Sapa-AFP