LARRY RYAN: Why Becks is not Fergie’s type of guy

It was a mixed week for the personal grooming industry.

On one hand, football’s wise leader Sepp Blatter was drawn on his preference for Messi over Ronaldo, citing the latter’s greater hairdressing expenses in his reasoning.

A devastating warning to Ballon d’Or pretenders that Ibra might also heed — don’t fly your flag on a barber’s pole.

Of course it was in keeping with the joyless hypersensitivity that has spread its angry rash over football that Real Madrid would seize on the jibe as clear evidence of a grand conspiracy.

No doubt we can now expect Ronaldo to gesture quizzically at his barnet any time one of his collapses isn’t rewarded with a penalty.

But before Blatter’s rebuke could empty salons, the man with the biggest hairdressing budget of them all was along to vouch for the value of tonsorial investment.

At the launch of his new book — called ‘David Beckham’, naturally, lest there be any brand dilution — which includes many photographs of all his haircuts, David Beckham emerged beautifully coiffured after that final blast of the hairdryer treatment from his old boss.

And, as Rio might put it; Fergie got rinsed.

It was classic brand management from the ‘global football icon’.

After Fergie’s own book brought the grave accusation that Beckham thought he was bigger than the gaffer; Becks turned the other cheek and showed he could indeed be the bigger man.

“I wouldn’t want to be negative about Sir Alex. He gave me the chance to live my dream.”

Becks was also able to let us know how his latest dream was forming, with Miami now favourite to be the lucky city anointed with stardust when he moves into MLS ownership.

And for the man who settled scores with his subordinates but handled his paymasters with kid gloves, there was a gentle reminder of how tables can turn.

“It’s funny, he was one of the first names I was going to call up to be manager. I’m not so sure now.”

And there it was; a vision of the reality show to revive a tired genre; Miami Spice.

Opening scene; Fergie is summoned to Becks’ office for a vote of confidence.

We know these men have their price. Let’s get it on.

So what of Beckham the book? Do we find out what drives an icon? Or even learn anything about the Beckham that drove Fergie mad?

Modest as ever, Becks accepts the book deviates in subtle ways from the traditional football read.

“There are a few words in there. But pictures sometimes say more about someone.”

We can be certain the pictures tell us many things about Becks; a shot of him wading topless out of a river in wet, snug jeans, for instance, probably tells us the lengths this lover of the game will go to retrieve an errant football, although he doesn’t appear to have found this one.

But even a book that took just over an hour to read also carries one or two insights in the words.

The penalty against Argentina: “Every single emotion in my body was telling me that I didn’t just want this, I needed it. I knew that millions were watching back home. I also knew that I couldn’t turn down this chance to create the perfect ending.”

We know Becks had a little bit of personal business with Argentina. All the same, it does take a special kind of individual to bring down a curtain during the second group game of a World Cup challenge.

England’s exit to Brazil barely commands a mention. There is certainly no reference to Becks jumping out of a tackle before Rivaldo’s opener, an incident Fergie couldn’t help recalling. But by then Becks had closed a chapter.

Perhaps Beckham’s finest achievement was the way he almost turned football into an individual sport of whipped crosses and logoed free-kicks; all the while managing to subsume himself in a team game.

But here was a small hint, maybe, that he had begun to struggle with that balancing act. By way of confirmation, a boot would soon be kicked in his face.

That incident isn’t mentioned either and we proceed to a highlight of Beckham’s Madrid stay – a 4-2 win over Barcelona. Interestingly, Becks doesn’t reflect on any of the goals in this one, rather on a moment when Barca were two up, when a fan had a go at him.

Turnaround complete, Becks ran to that area of the crowd at the finish, picked out his critic and gave him his shirt. “It felt amazingly good. We had won the match but I had also won over a detractor.”

As you’d imagine, the great brand-builder also had an eye on a wider audience. “It was a powerful moment too, because many other fans were touched by the embrace.”

It was that unerring eye for the bigger prizes beyond cups and medals that brought Becks to a place this week where he was virtually signing books for online punters around the world.

But it was also the stray eye that told you why Fergie could have no more dealings with him. The guy with goodwill left in his heart at 2-0 down. That is not Fergie’s type of guy. Whatever the haircut.


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