David Beckham and Oasis: a Tale of Career Decline

Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
David Beckham and Oasis: a Tale of Career Decline
Image available under Creative Commons (c) sintixerr

They won’t like this but David Beckham’s retirement from football this week put me in mind of a bunch more readily associated with the other half of Manchester, Britpoppers Oasis.

Both came to prominence in the mid to early 90s; Oasis at Glasgow’s King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut and Beckham at Preston North End’s Deepdale ground. Initially, the characteristic that united them can be broadly defined as swagger.

Beckham would hurtle down the right flank on buccaneering runs before angling in impossibly delicious crosses while Oasis would brandish their guitars like totems; Liam Gallagher’s snarled vocals and Noel’s lofty hauteur marking them out as the coolest kids in the gang.

From the audacity of that half way line lob at Selhurst Park to the opening drumbeat on Live Forever, we lapped it up — and so did the celebrity mags — Patsy Kensit, Meg Matthews and Posh Spice were all corralled into the sphere of influence. Manchester United started notching up league titles while Oasis collected number ones.

But even at the time, one thing seemed evident. These guys were good — but not that good.

Sure, that was a fine United side and Beckham was pivotal to it — but his talents seemed prosaic compared to those of Eric Cantona or Ryan Giggs. Similarly, Definitely Maybe and What’s the Story (Morning Glory) were packed full of anthems — songs that live on in the backstreet pubs of Burnage and Irlam to this day — but time has now decided that Oasis were a very poor third to Blur and Pulp.

What both achieved was a recasting of traditional British virtues of effort and graft — the traditional, the uncomplicated and the worthy. In their wake, trailed the ‘Dad Rock’ of Ocean Colour Scene and a Paul Weller as caricature, while James Milner, Michael Carrick and others signal the eternal British need for an understated hero.

For did anyone beyond Dover see Oasis as an important band? — and did anyone at the other end of the Eurostar see Beckham as an all-time great?

Bad boy behaviour — bust ups on cross-channel ferries and a lashing out at Diego Simeone – did perpetuate the myth while Rebecca Loos and illicit pharma provided their temptations for the songsters.

But as injury and the superannuated bombast of Be Here Now set in, we were left with a kernel of those heady early days.

Throughout the agonising run up to the 2002 World Cup, Beckham’s metatarsal was keeping us awake at night, but just as the Gallaghers were settling into a cycle of one disappointing album after another, that foot injury was to signal an eleven year period of modest achievement for the Leytonstone man.

As we have subsequently seen with Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Andriy Shevchenko, Ronaldinho and Fernando Torres, a blessure is far from a blessing — and whole careers can founder.

From a bitterly disappointing Euro 2004 and that scuffed penalty to being outshone by greater talents at Real Madrid, it became embarrassing to mention Beckham in the same breath as his contemporaries — Thierry Henry, Zinedine Zidane and later, Lionel Messi. Similarly, reappraisal casts Oasis as somewhere between The Animals and the Manics in the British Pop pantheon – decent but little more.

So, we can be thankful that the Mancunian rockers put us out of our misery a few years ago now, even if Beady Eye continue to enjoy the baffling patronage of Radio Six Music, while yesterday, old Golden Balls stepped down too, leaving him free to pursue the public relations career that always constituted his main skill set.

Rob Langham
Rob Langham is co-founder of the defiantly non-partisan football league blog, The Two Unfortunates, a website that occasionally strays into covering issues of wider importance. He's 50 and lives in Oxford while retaining his boyhood support of Reading FC. He tweets as @twounfortunates and has written for a number of websites and publications including The Inside Left, When Saturday Comes, In Bed with Maradona, Futbolgrad and The Blizzard as well as being nominated for the Football Supporters' Federation Blogger of the Year Award in 2013.


  1. Jo Breen
    May 17, 2013

    Oh look! The two biggest football stories of the past week both involve careers that started at PNE!

  2. Craig G Telfer
    May 17, 2013

    An interesting argument and one I am inclined to acquiesce with (no pun intended) but I cannot agree that history has proven that Oasis were the third-fiddle behind Blur and Pulp – Definitely Maybe and Morning Glory are far superior to anything the other two produced.

    On the whole, Oasis have been a good, sometimes brilliant, band. Be Here Now has matured very well (although it is *fucking noisy* at times), while Don’t Believe The Truth and Dig Out Your Soul are very good, hamstrung the fact they were made by Oasis more than anything else. Only Standing on the Shoulder of Giants is an absolute turkey.

  3. Tim Vickerman
    May 17, 2013

    Seriously? Blur and Pulp ahead of the Manic Street Preachers? I suggest that you, sir, have never listened to The Holy Bible!

    • Craig G Telfer
      May 17, 2013

      The Holy Bible’s OK. Yes and Faster are excellent but the majority is just navel-gazing set to pretty spiky music.

  4. Ben
    May 18, 2013

    Harsh on Beckham, I feel – but then I’ve long been a fan. People talk about him not being able to beat a man, but then he never needed to – his crossing was good enough to take them out of the equation. He may have been a poor relation to his colleagues at Real Madrid generally speaking but none of them could hold a candle to him when it came to delivery from set pieces. He also always gave his all and was one of those players who could single-handedly rouse a team to victory – England v Greece in 2001 being the ultimate case in point. OK so he’s been living out a protracted public retirement in recent years but he always comes across as a decent enough and modest bloke – refreshing given some of the egos in football.

    On the music side of things, I think you’ve been too kind to Oasis. John Harris’ ‘The Last Party’ does a good job of charting their descent from raw promise to egomania, laziness and boorishness. Blur I find extremely difficult to stomach too, and while Pulp were significantly better I’m with Tim in ranking the Manics’ ‘Holy Bible’ above anything the other three ever did.

  5. Matt
    May 18, 2013

    Beckham was a better crosser than anyone else of his generation (and most others) and his set-pieces were peerless but in open play he was little more than a tidy midfielder, though his leadership skills and patriotism served him well.

    As for Oasis and the rest – none of them were a patch on Del Amitri.

  6. Lanterne Rouge
    May 19, 2013

    I agree that Beckham is a modest enough cove and a role model to an extent although that Greece goal only led to a draw and there was the safety net of a play off (which Germany negotiated comfortably before going on to appear in the World Cup final) so I’ve always been baffled by the way that free kick has been eulogised – a lovely piece of skill for sure – but the consequences of it not going in were hardly disastrous.

    The Last Party is indeed a classic and I do own a copy of the Holy Bible – a visceral LP for sure and deserves to be regarded as among the best that era had to offer.


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