Date:Wednesday February 11 2009
He`s got East Anglain links, gives Leyton Orient sex appeal and could make any tracksuit look good. Alas, not new O`s boss, Geraint Williams, but the planet`s most recognisable sportsman, David Beckham.
You expect, when League One`s Orient got a whiff of Beckham-mania, they`d get excited. The biggest signature in football was reputedly heading from autograph book to boardroom with a surprise takeover bid fronted by Beckham`s advisors. Becks was made waves down South for the first time since media outlets printed he might take a mid-season U.S. sabbatical with Ipswich.
At least that`s how the red-tops painted it. The truth emerged as something less dramatic - the proposal was merely through a consortium lead by Becks` agent, Terry Byrne. Boringly enough, it fell through on the day Williams was appointed as Leyton`s fire-fighter in a relegation blaze.
With Beckham busily wooing the Milanese public, it seemed unlikely that the former Manchester United pin-up was so desperate to revalidate his European passport that he`d swap Los Angelis for Brisbane Road.
Stranger things, unfortunately, in the week that Milan`s medics told England`s own he could play until he`s 38, haven`t happened.
Fine, perhaps nobody was even thinking that the boy for Leytonstone wanted to turn out for his neighbourhood club; not yet, anyway. But neither were people expecting Brand Beckham`s links, with impromptu investments of potentially millions, to surface so empathically. For judge, jury and executioner, the Orient fans` dream image probably posited Beckham as all-in-one chairman, manager and skipper.
The rest we know: Beckham`s pretty hyde and mean right-foot have been loaned to a football`s fashion house in Italy, pending a permanent more and tonight he expects to draw level with Bobby Moore`s 108 England appearances. Tonight he`ll face the country, Spain, where he won Real Madrid a La Liga medal, under the boss who first dropped him from, then put him back into, the team.
Back at Orient, Colchester`s former manager, the affable Geraint Williams, has to compete with that maelstrom of malign speculation. Or at least try: his style was always to pour water over the fire of hyperbole`s flame, which is why he`ll probably find the new nickname, Saint Geraint, an annoying complement at best. Modesty`s the best policy where Williams, a tracksuit talent for sure, is concerned.
But, as Guardian journalist Paul Hayward noted when Monday morning turned into a managerial sack-fest at Chelsea and Portsmouth in the Premier League: "There is no known cure of hysteria." And although opinion fluctuates, a poll on our sister site at Vital Orient says punters that way think Williams qualifies at the best man for the job. Supports rightly appear excited that a new man might lift them up the league, but novelty nicknames and inflated expectations are a cargo he can surely do without.
Optimism remains there, despite an unconvincing London-based radio interview on the science of goalscoring and his apparent tactic of sticking ten men behind the ball to grind out a point in his first game.
On a cure team`s lack of net-busting strikes, Williams told the BBC: "You get into the opposition`s box more often, and you get more shots on goal. It`s not quite that simple, but that`s the idea." That hardly scientific analysis is taken straight from the book called keeping it simple, stupid.
Perhaps Geraint is totally right, and if he brings the results, it`ll be our fault, not his, for demanding a hugely comprehensive explanation for everything, in our era of professionalism, Pro Zone and sports psychology. The Colchester viewpoint of the man who lead United to their dizziest-all-time heights in 2006/7 was at first that his calmness diluted the pressure: talk of a possible Premier League promotion was always band. Then, it all turned sour and so stuck a wet-lattice label, instead.
Maybe aura, charisma, doesn`t matter as much as what the scorecards are saying each time a full-time whistle blows. Avram Grant was called The Undertaker for his grave face at Stamford Bridge but he came closer than anyone to winning Chelsea a converted Champions League.
Whatever, you just have to pity a man who waited five months for a footballing return, only to be upstaged by rumours of Leytonstone`s most famous ambassador making a sensational return to his birthplace. Nobody, least of all Geraint Williams, can compete with Beckham`s bandwagon.
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