Beckham: Donovan rift a blessing that helped unify Galaxy
DAVID BECKHAM believes friction with Los Angeles Galaxy teammate Landon Donovan earlier this year helped unify the major league soccer outfit. Galaxy face Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final in Seattle tomorrow.
Beckham had missed the start of the campaign after securing an extension to his loan deal with AC Milan until the end of the Serie A season in Italy, and while he was away, a book titled The Beckham Experiment was published exposing rifts between him and Donovan, who questioned the England midfielder’s commitment to Galaxy.
As the controversy ensued, Beckham was booed by some Galaxy fans on his return to the Home Depot Centre in July, but since then the 34-year-old has mended his relationship with Donovan and helped turn his team from last-placed finishers in 2008 to Western Conference champions.
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid ace, who will rejoin AC Milan on December 28 in a second loan deal, refused to make an issue of his difficult start to the season with LA Galaxy, instead say- ing the friction with Donovan had been beneficial.
“I don't have to say anything about myself, I'll leave that to other people to decide,” Beckham said. “But I love playing soccer, I work hard for my team and my teammates, and myself and my manager and the fans, and I hope that's enough for people.
“But there's nothing wrong with a bit of controversy in a club. It brings players and teams together and it has done that.”
Alexi Lalas hailed Galaxy for finally making Beckham’s move to MLS a success. The former US de- fender was the club's managing director when the free-kick specialist arrived in Los Angeles in July 2007, only for Beckham to spend his first half-season hampered by injury.
Galaxy failed to improve in Beckham’s first full season at the club and, having fired two head coaches in Frank Yallop and Ruud Gullit, team owners AEG also jettisoned Lalas, bringing in Bruce Arena as coach and director of football.
Arena could not prevent Galaxy finishing with the worst record in MLS in 2008, but the turnaround in 2009 has impressed Lalas.