Beckham fury at England axe

EXCLUSIVE By Bob Cass

Last updated at 17:20 14 August 2006


David Beckham is furious with new coach Steve McClaren for his shock axing from the England squad, and is determined to prove he is still good enough to play for his country.

Beckham, 31, insists he was not in tears, as has been alleged, after he took McClaren's call last Monday telling him he was not wanted for this week's game with Greece, or in any future squad. And he did not beg the coach to let him stay on to become only the fifth England player to win 100 caps.

But the decision to ditch him, which has earned McClaren praise and is viewed in some quarters as a bold start to the new era, has left him angry, bemused and bitterly disappointed. Beckham is particularly unhappy that McClaren publicly implied on Friday that the England door could still be open if he proved himself worthy, when privately he has been informed that he will not figure at all in the new boss's plans.

Although McClaren insisted his decision to ditch the former skipper was for football reasons as he wanted to go in a 'new direction', Beckham is convinced there were other factors involved.

'David feels he is entitled to question why, if it was a football decision, he is no longer considered to be one of the best 23 English players,' said a source close to the midfielder, who is currently on tour in America with Real Madrid.

Beckham, who became the first England player in history to score in three World Cups with his second-round winner against Ecuador, as well as supplying two other vital assists in the tournament, is adamant he could still do a job, although it has been made quite clear to him he will not be given the chance.

Now he intends to prove to England supporters, by playing well at the biggest club in the world, that McClaren has made a big mistake in bringing his England career to a premature conclusion. Beckham realises that the possibility McClaren could go back on his decision is highly unlikely but he is still passionate about England.

He gave up the captaincy in an emotional statement the day after England's quarter-final exit to Portugal in Germany, but he is nowhere near ready to accept international retirement.

This week McClaren will begin his new job without the distractions that Beckham's high-profile presence can bring.

And he is planning to ask striker Wayne Rooney, who was not included in the squad because of injury, to see a sports psychologist the next time he joins up with England — with the blessing of Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson. As revealed in The Mail on Sunday after England's World Cup exit, McClaren wants to add some mental toughness to a squad who have departed the past three major tournaments at

the quarter-final stage, twice on penalties. After considering Jamie Edwards, the man who worked with Andrew Flintoff so successfully during cricket's Ashes series last year, McClaren has gone back to Bill Beswick, who has worked with him for 10 years, on the staff at Middlesbrough for the past five. McClaren believes his new assistant Terry Venables, with his experience of handling Paul Gascoigne, will help get the best out of Rooney on the field and that Beswick will tame the temperament that flared against Portugal.

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