After a terrible start to the season for Manchester United, David Beckham’s Netfix documentary is an important reminder of a time where wearing the red and white of Manchester United meant everything. The current group of players should take inspiration – Manchester United is a club steeped in history and playing in front of 75,000 at Old Trafford is a privilege.
After Manchester United‘s dramatic and nostalgic turnaround in added time against Brentfordlast weekend thanks to two Scott McTominay goals, the Scotsman told the media he had taken inspiration from David Beckham‘s Netflix documentary.
He said: “I was watching David Beckham’s documentary last night and you see the history and the people behind the club.
“That’s what the lads do it for, Kath on reception, the kit men, everyone, it’s so important we all come together and we do it for the people.”
McTominay is a player who lives and breathes Manchester United but he has been criticised by pundits and fans for his sub-par performances and there are question marks whether he is a Manchester United calibre player.
In recent times he has often been forced to play out of position in a more defensive role, but he has better qualities as a more advanced midfielder.
The issue is he is far less creative than Burno Fernandes so there is no obvious place for him in the starting XI.
However, both Beckham’s documentary and McTominay’s inspired performance against Brentford served as reminders of why having players like that at Manchester United, is so crucial.
Ten Hag made a similar suggestion after the Brentford win, saying: “You see he is Man United in everything in his heart, he is playing for the badge, he gives his life.”
If you could bottle up McTominay’s mentality and give it to some of the players far more talented than him, then you would have a team capable of competing for silverware.
Is there an issue with the mentality of academy graduates?
You would think with the rich history at Manchester United of academy players getting chances in the first team, most former academy players would have the same mentality as McTominay and Beckham.
But the reality is a stark contrast to what is expected.
Take Paul Pogba – he came through United’s academy under Sir Alex Ferguson, yet you never knew from one week to the next if he was going to turn up and he appeared too often distracted by his life off the pitch.
Currently, Manchester-born and bred Marcus Rashford looks totally abject and when he is low on confidence, his work rate is poor.
And that is unacceptable for someone who should understand the demands of United fans who remember a recent history where every single player gave everything for the shirt and anyone who didn’t was ostracised, however talented you were.
United players can take inspiration from Beckham’s love for football
Despite his every move being in the spotlight during his playing career, Beckham’s love for football always came first.
He had every excuse to lose focus on the football side of things when he was becoming a fashion icon, brand deals coming from all directions and a wife in Victoria who, because of the Spice Girls, was just as famous and in the public eye as him.
But Beckham admitted in his documentary: “All I ever really wanted to do was play football.”
And that came across in different significant moments in his career when he simply couldn’t accept losing and took it upon himself to carry his side over the line.
A prime example of this came in England’s must-not-lose game against Greece to qualify for the 2002 World Cup.
Beckham had been criticised throughout the previous three years in the aftermath of his naive red card against Argentina as England were knocked out of the 1998 World Cup.
With England losing and heading towards another embarrassing chapter in their history, Beckham began to run the show.
He was literally everywhere that day and the sensational 93rd-minute free-kick to equalise and send England to the World Cup completed his arc from villain to hero.
Manchester United’s current squad could learn a lot from Beckham’s mentality – the Manchester United and England legend responded to years of criticism and abuse not by doing an interview or throwing his toys out of the pram but by responding on the pitch and delivering for his nation.
If you are struggling to cope with the pressure and demands of playing for Manchester United then there is private support in the way of therapy and club psychologists you can speak to and if you’re still struggling then there is no shame in moving to a smaller club with less pressure and lower expectations.
But too many Manchester United players in recent years have made their discontent public.
This powerful documentary on Beckham should remind those players that it is a privilege to play for United.
Also, with an Old Trafford crowd that always has love to give to those who earn it, the players need to ask themselves – ‘how am I going to earn that love and in turn add my name to the famous list of club legends?’
A fresh start needed after dismal start to season
It’s time for the players at Manchester United to take a mental reset and remind themselves of the club’s history and what the likes of Beckham would do to help bring success to the club.
Because, whilst an injury crisis and the incompetent Glazer ownership hold Ten Hag’s hands behind his back, the players at his disposal are free to prove a point.
They have the chance to turn the season around and their Manchester United careers with it.
Maybe then they will earn some love and respect from fans who want to see a team that resembles something close to the Manchester United of old.