Beckham gets average grades after surprise start

David Beckham receives average ratings from Italian sports dailies after playing nearly a full 90 minutes in his AC Milan debut last night.

David Beckham, left, make his AC Milan debut against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. His performance received average marks from the Italian press.
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ROME // David Beckham received average ratings from Italian sports dailies today after playing nearly a full 90 minutes in his AC Milan debut last night. The Gazzetta dello Sport gave the former England captain 6 out of 10 for his performance in Sunday's 2-2 draw with Roma. "Ninety minutes that nobody expected... He played hard, crossed, shot and helped with humility. For his debut it was enough," the Gazzetta said.

The Gazzetta counted nine crosses from Beckham - more than any other Milan player - but also reported that he lost the ball 13 times, matched only by fellow midfielder Clarence Seedorf. The Rome-based Corriere dello Sport also gave him 6 out of 10. "He seemed disoriented, and had trouble understanding where his position on the field should be," Corriere wrote. "He made few errors, without shining, in the first 45 minutes. In the second half, he exited nearly completely from the scene."

The 33-year-old Beckham has joined the Rossoneri on a two-month loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy to maintain his fitness levels during the MLS's off-season and keep him in the thoughts of the England manager Fabio Capello. The Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Saturday that it would be "difficult" to start the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player because he had not played a competitive match for two months.

However, he lined him up in his familiar role on the right side of midfield for Sunday's game at the Stadio Olimpico and Beckham played 89 minutes before being replaced by Mathieu Flamini. "When I said that Beckham wasn't going to play from the start I made a lie," Ancelotti said after the game. "We decided together to not say that he was going to start, so he wouldn't have too much pressure on top of him. He played a good game, played simply, always maintaining the correct position on the field."

The England coach Capello was caught off guard and did not have any scouts at the game, the Gazzetta reported. Beckham got a week of training in with Milan in Dubai over the holiday break where they played a friendly against the Bundesliga outfit Hamburg SV. "He has shown he's an intelligent and balanced player over these past days. I wanted to give him a small prize for the work he did in Dubai, for how much he trained and the dedication he showed," Ancelotti said.

"He has integrated very well with the group and the team. I think we're all happy that he's here." *AP