Early Doors

Beckham’s beard: the ugly truth

Early Doors

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You know it's time
to get back to domestic football when The Times, arguably the world's
most prestigious newspaper, leads its back page with a big picture of David Beckham
and the title: "The great beard debate: should he shave or should he

It's silly, but less offensive than when the Daily Mail asked in 2008: "Has bearded and shaven-headed David Beckham joined the Taliban?" If it forced Victoria to cover her face, most people would probably be in favour...

For what it's
worth, ED considers Beckham's beard preposterous,
but anything that makes him look like a cross between Garry Birtles and an
Abbey Road-era George Harrison
has to be a good thing.

If Beckham manages to sneak on the plane for South Africa,
ED implores him to style himself on
Socrates's 1982 look, right down to
the headband

Surely it is no coincidence that Beckham's facial sproutings increased markedly just days
after England
talisman Wayne Rooney admitted his scraggy ginger beard was the product of
"pure laziness"?

emergence as England's only genuinely
world class attacker has threatened Beckham's
iconic status - so what better way to hit back than to mimic Wazza's rough-and-ready appearance?

You are crazy if you think the Becks beard is the result of
the player just putting down his razor one morning and saying : "Do you
know what? I can't be bothered with

It is the result of many hours of careful planning by his style
and PR team - and it would be classic Beckham to put tremendous effort into
looking like he is making no effort at all. (Off the pitch, that is. On it, he
puts put tremendous effort into looking like he is making a tremendous effort.)

And clearly it has worked. The features spread across the
back pages of seven out of nine national dailies are not those of England's best player; instead they belong to the man who
will almost certainly be the 23rd man on the plane (just behind Peter Crouch,
just in front of cabin crew).

Still, he is no worse than the insufferable clowns who spend a
fortune on hair products that make it look like they have just got out of bed.

ED's tip for that
perfect 'bed head' look? A couple of nights on a park bench.

- - -

If Rio Ferdinand's
bad back gets too much for him, it is good to know he will be bothering the
public for decades to come as a 'media

Having tasted TV success in the shape of Rio's World Cup Wind-ups, he has begun to model himself
as the natural heir to Michael Parkinson.

Rio has not suddenly
started crashing the posh seats at major sporting events or launching curmudgeonly rants about the decline of
(World Cup Wind-ups being a prime culprit).

No, his Parky-emulation stems from his newly-found sideline conducting
fantastically sycophantic interviews with famous people for his wildly
self-aggrandising #5 magazine.

Rio recently met Roger
Federer, with whom he shares both his initials and his principal sponsor, and
has now interviewed the similarly swoosh-encrusted LeBron James.

There is actually something quite endearing about how
pleased Rio is to be meeting these global sporting icons - in this clip just
look at the smile on his cheeky face as LeBron talks about his friendship with

It is mostly harmless stuff, this practice of using your
fame to meet other, more famous people. Or is it?

ED hopes he didn't
inhale too vigorously when exchanging chest bumps with LeBron. Worryingly for Rio and
Manchester United, it turns out James is being treated for swine flu.

- - -

Wilson Palacios will miss Tottenham's game at Portsmouth after
being ordered to party by his country's ruling military junta.

Palacios played in the 1-0 win over El Salvador that earned Honduras their
firsat World Cup appearance since 1982.

Palacios was expected to return
in time to train on Friday but  the
country's government pressured the
players into attending a celebratory party in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa.

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp said: "I guess when the
President tells you to do something, you can't do much about it."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Diego Maradona, obviously: "I don't forget things: those who did not believe, those
who did not believe - may the ladies excuse me - they can suck my d*** and keep
on sucking."

FOREIGN VIEW: Former Italy boss Dino Zoff has called Marcello Lippi
"arrogant" for blasting the sections of the Parma
crowd that gave his side flak during Wednesday's
3-2 win over Cyprus
in their last World Cup qualifier.

Lippi described the fans' reaction after his side conceded two goals as "shameful"
and said a national team that won the 2006 World Cup and qualified for next
year's finals in South Africa with
a game to spare deserved more respect.

The current Azzurri coach also took exception
to chants for striker Antonio Cassano, who has been overlooked despite his strong
form for Sampdoria.

"You cannot allow yourself to be so
arrogant," Zoff said.

"The crowd has the right to chant for
who they want. Lippi can disagree with them, but he should do so with a degree
of politeness."

The world champions came back to win in the
latter stages of Wednesday's match
thanks to an Alberto Gilardino hat-trick.

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