Last updated : 06 September 2004 By editor

'Footballers, in many ways, are similar to children. And that is not meant as any kind of slight. They need firm boundaries in place to make the rules clear. Step out of line and action will be taken. Under perform and your place is in danger. It's basic man-management that should be rigidly applied, otherwise problems occur that can get out of hand.

Though loathe to accept it, Sven-Goran Eriksson, the England coach, is faced with such a dilemma with regard to his captain. David Beckham isn't playing particularly well. He didn't in Portugal and he didn't against Austria on Saturday night. There was no lack of effort. With typical dedication, Beckham grafted away on the right side of midfield, busting a gut to influence proceedings.

Yet still he struggled to find the right path. So what happens from here? Let's make one thing clear at this point: for Wednesday's game in Poland, Eriksson will not even countenance omitting Beckham. History tells us that he sticks with his stars. But at the same time, he can't go on arguing about the lack of options. Wright-Phillips offers something different with his direct running style.

Anyway, there is nothing wrong with dropping your captain. Elsewhere, it happens all the time. And being the proud patriot that he is the indignity might even do Beckham a favour; give him a timely jolt at a crossroads in his career.'