Beckham exclusive, day 2: I'll buy an MLS club, hire Gary Neville as manager... and then sack him!
Published 22:00 04/11/11 By Oliver Holt
David Beckham is pondering the future.
Some of his thoughts make him smile.
Like the idea of buying a football team in America and appointing their new boss.
“I might hire Gary Neville as manager,” Beckham says, grinning as he imagines his friend. “And then fire him!”
Then there’s the prospect of making one last big move by leaving the LA Galaxy for Paris Saint Germain, and what his wife Victoria might think of that.
“Whose missus wouldn’t like it there?” Beckham says, grinning again. “It’s Paris.”
But like any parent, what Beckham thinks about most when he thinks about the future is his four children, Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper.
A move to PSG, newly bankrolled by the vast wealth of the Qatar Investment Authority, would offer him the possibility of finishing his career at the top level.
But it would also mean uprooting his family from their enchanted lifestyle here in southern California and pose new challenges for his children.
“There are a number of factors I have to consider when I’m thinking about the possibility of moving on from the Galaxy,” Beckham says.
“Are my kids happy here is the first question I have to ask. And the answer to that is ‘yes’. And my eldest boy, Brooklyn, is at the age where he needs stability throughout his schooling.
“But then again, his mum and dad have to work. We have moved to different countries over the years and it has not upset the boys or affected them in any way.
“If we do end up leaving here and going somewhere else, as long as our children are OK, that is the most important thing.
“When I say, ‘I have to work’, I mean I love to work. I love to play and be out there and be part of the team.
“I could sit back and do nothing, but that is not me. And I have four kids to support.
"As a parent, we all worry about how our kids are going to grow up. Are they going to have their feet on the ground?
“Obviously our boys and little girl are very lucky. They’ve got a great life set up for them. The boys have had a great life here for the last five years.
“But I think, as a parent, you always continue to worry. You think ‘have they got the hunger that I had as a kid’?
“I had a real regular upbringing. All I ever wanted to do was play football, to take a ball out on to the field and kick it around. I just wanted to be a footballer.
“Kids these days, not just mine, have so many distractions. Computer games, other sports - especially living in America.
“My boys aren’t just into football but baseball, basketball, American football. They’re skateboarding. They are surfing. They play football - training three times a week and playing on Saturday and Sunday.
"I'm as hard on my boys as my dad was on me. They always ask, 'Did I play well? Did I play well?' I usually say, 'You did all right, could have done better'.
“They definitely have the hunger for football, but there are a lot of other things they’re into whereas when I was a kid all I wanted to do, and all I had, was football.
“I wasn’t into skateboarding or surfing - we couldn’t really surf in the East End of London.
“But my boys have definitely got their feet on the ground. The way my Dad brought me up, he was strict. I’m exactly the same with my boys. They don’t get away with too much.
“They are used to the attention we get as a family. They can spot paparazzi before I do.
"We’ve always made that into a game and not made too much of a fuss about them being pictured every day.
“We love living here. I need to decide whether it is the right move for me to continue to play here or continue to play at all.
"It has been my best season in the MLS so I am obviously doing something right.”
Beckham was superb on Thursday as the Galaxy eased their way past Thierry Henry’s New York Red Bulls to move to within two wins of the MLS title.
And he believes that the US league has improved since he made his shock move from Real Madrid five years ago.
“It’s better now,” Beckham says. “But then I’m going to say that.
"You’ve got Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Robbie Keane playing here now and other talented players.
“You see the coverage football gets on the TV now and it’s more than we get in England. Whether they are Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, MLS, there are always games on the TV.
“There has been a real explosion of interest in the Pacific North-West [where] Seattle are getting massive crowds. And the majority of games that the Galaxy play are sold out.
“This season, I’ve definitely felt a shift with football and the attention the league is getting, but they need to spend a huge amount of money to get to the point where the best players are coming here in their prime.
“They definitely have to lift the salary cap. They have to.
"The amount players are paid in Europe, they’re not going to suddenly drop to a salary cap level in a different country.
“That has to change.
"Then that might lead to a huge television deal. Those are the kinds of things that will take football to another level here.”
Beckham may be instrumental in that process.
He insists he will take up his option to buy either an existing MLS club or an expansion franchise when his playing career ends. And he smiles again at the thought.
“I’d like a role where I don’t get criticised by the fans,” he says. “Is that possible?”