Bruce Arena has revealed how he convinced David Beckham to remain with the LA Galaxy in 2008.
Arena took charge during Beckham’s second season in MLS and was aware the then-England international was considering a move away.
In his upcoming book ‘What’s Wrong with US?: A Coach’s Blunt Take on the State of American Soccer After a Lifetime on the Touchline’, the former Galaxy boss details the conversation that kept the former Real Madrid and Manchester United midfielder in Los Angeles.
Arena also confirms Beckham paid out of his own pocket to extend a loan deal at AC Milan in 2009, which he ultimately felt benefited all parties despite causing the Englishman to miss the start of the MLS campaign.
“The sense I had from David when I first took the Galaxy job was that he was looking at other options,” Arena wrote.
“Beckham at the time was away on international duty for the English national team; I called him, and he did not sound happy. When David came back to Southern California, we met at his house in Beverly Hills. I remember that his wife, Victoria, answered the door. We had a glass of wine and talked, but the whole time I’m wondering, ‘What in the hell is this guy thinking?’ He was playing with Real Madrid, made the jump to MLS only to find himself playing for a team with some major issues. The Galaxy finished in fifth place in the Western Conference in 2007, his first season, with a 9-14-7 record. Our final mark for 2008 would be 8-13-9.
“I know you’re looking around and maybe you’re questioning, ‘What did I do?’ I said to David, ‘All I can tell you is I’m going to do my best to rebuild the team.’
“He liked my determination. I asked for his support, and he said I had it all the way. We talked about some potential problem areas, including his relationship with Landon Donovan. I made the point that he and Landon didn’t have to hang out away from the team, but they did need to have a good working relationship. That was all that mattered. I knew David had to make the choice that was right for him – and his family.
“We loaned him to AC Milan in the off-season for three months starting January 2009, which was a good way for David to stay sharp, and he found himself loving life in Italy. Why not? I enjoy hanging out in Italy as well. Who doesn’t? He started talking about wanting to stay longer. ‘I have expressed my desire to stay at AC Milan now, and it’s just down to Milan and Galaxy to come to an agreement,’ David said from Milan in early February. ‘I have enjoyed my time here. I knew I would enjoy it but I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have and do as well as I have.’ As a New York Times headline put it in February 2009, ‘Beckham Hopes to Revel in the Joys of Milan in the Spring.’
“Look, it wasn’t ideal, but from my perspective it was all fine. Playing with Milan was good for David, and, provided we got him back early enough in the season for our purposes, that was good for us as well. The deal we came up with actually called for David to pitch in some of his own money to stay a little longer with Milan, which showed how important it was to him, given how focused he was on making the England World Cup team in 2010. None of it ever interfered with David’s value as a spokesman for the game in this country.”
Outspoken, honest, and game changing—Bruce Arena’s memoir What’s Wrong with US? is available now wherever books are sold. For more information, visit https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062803948/whats-wrong-with-us/.