Becks: Donovan rift was a blessing
David Beckham believes friction with Los Angeles Galaxy team-mate Landon Donovan earlier this year helped unify the Major League Soccer outfit. The Galaxy face Real Salt Lake in the MLS Cup final in Seattle on Sunday.
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 entitled 'The Beckham Experiment' was published exposing rifts between him and Donovan, who questioned the England midfielder's commitment to the 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 28 December in a second loan deal, refused to make an issue of his difficult start to the season with LA Galaxy, instead saying 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 told ESPN. "But I love playing soccer, I work hard for my team and my team-mates, 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's done that."
Alexi Lalas hailed the Galaxy for finally making Beckham's move to MLS a success. The former USA defender was the club's managing director when the free-kick specialist arrived in Los Angeles in July 2007, only for the player to spend his first half-season hampered with injury problems.
The 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. He could not prevent the Galaxy finishing with the worst record in MLS in 2008, but the turnaround in 2009 has impressed Lalas.
"You talk about the 'Beckham Experiment', well, when you do an experiment it's trial and error and the Galaxy have got it right in terms of what they've done on and off the field this year," Lalas said on ESPN. "They made wholesale changes at the end of last year, got rid of Ruud Gullit, made some other changes, got rid of yours truly and a lot of different things but ultimately the organisation is right back where it needs to be and that's important for the Galaxy fans and they're the most important in all of this."