Beckham opens door to Manchester United return

Associated Press

London, January 18:

David Beckham acknowledges his starting place with England is under threat, and says moving back to Manchester United is a possibility. Beckham’s play at Real Madrid has slumped over the last few months, leading him to call 2005 “an important year for me” with the Spanish club and national side.

“I have been here (Real Madrid) for a year and a half and I have not played my best football in the past few months,” he said on Tuesday in an interview in The Mirror newspaper. “But I believe what I have done in my career so far does not warrant some of the things that have been said about me. I have been disregarded as a footballer too quickly.”

Beckham also left open the option of rejoining Manchester United, despite hard feelings between him and Man United manager Alex Ferguson. After a fallout, Ferguson shipped Beckham to Real Madrid in the summer of 2003. “If I ever leave Real Madrid, I would go back to United and work with Sir Alex Ferguson again, definitely,” Beckham said. England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has been under pressure to replace Beckham with Manchester City’s Shaun Wright-Phillips on the right side of midfield. Wright-Phillips and Aston Villa striker Jermain Defoe are considered England’s top young prospects.

“Of course I would fight for my place if I was dropped,” Beckham said. “I wouldn’t walk away. I wouldn’t throw my toys out of the pram. Some people say that if I wasn’t captain I would stop playing for England. That isn’t the case,” added Beckham, who turns 30 in May.

“Even at my age I still believe I am a good captain and a good player.” Beckham said Wright-Phillips “deserves a spot in the England starting lineup.” Beckham had a strong game Sunday in Real Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Zaragoza and said his “fitness was coming back” after a rib injury. “I believe I will still be in the England team in 2006,” he said. “I believe I will still be England captain for that World Cup.”