What a kick from that flying boot


BY TAN KAH PENG

 

THAT infamous dressing-room kick was acutely felt outside Old Trafford this past week. 

Sir Alec Ferguson’s mistimed kick of the boot that left David Beckham bruised and angry created a media hullabaloo, a welcome relief, no doubt, from the heightened security alert over the Iraqi crisis. 

In Hong Kong, Madame Tussaud’s was right on the ball: the waxwork figure of Beckham was brought up to date. 

The kick in the face, it seems, was all the more painful after the manager singled out Beckham for Man U’s ignominious FA Cup exit last Saturday at the hands of arch-rival Arsenal. 

It caused more than a twitch of the eyebrow in the Square Mile as Man U – with a market value of just under £273mil – saw its shares fall nearly 2% to 117p on Tuesday over fears that the club may lose its biggest star. 

Those fears are not misplaced as Beckham is a key asset, both on and off the field, for the club which has a worldwide following of some 50 million, about 17 million of whom are in Asia, not to mention its die-hard Malaysian fans. 

His image alone is worth more than £200mil. His No. 7 jersey is Man U’s best-selling replica shirt and he is sponsored by Vodafone and Pepsi which also paid big money to be identified with the club. 

No wonder the incident, fuelled by a media fuss, caused a bit of a jitter in the City, what with Sir Alec’s renowned “hairdryer” treatment of lousy players who get quite an earful, nose-to-nose, that ends up, according to former striker Mark Hughes, “with your hair behind your back.” 

His strong dislike of losing is seen as one of the secrets of his fame as Britain’s most successful football manager. So aggression pays? Not quite if it is used, like in this instance, in a negative way, according to a psychotherapist. 

“Most successful people, from entrepreneurs to football managers, have to be quite aggressive to rise to the top,” said Dr Sidney Crown, “but the important thing is to channel it so it works for you. 

“Sometimes he (Sir Alec) loses control, making him weaker than stronger (in the eyes of the players).” 

All’s well on the surface – a freakish incident, says the boss who, the media noticed, did not say sorry to what Beckham described as “just one of those things.” 

The market thinks so, too, as Man U shares got a boost with the important win over Juventus in the Champions League, thanks to Beckham’s boot which, instead of flying around the dressing room, provided the “killer” blow to the Italian club. 

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