PARIS Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has rounded on critics of David Beckham for his performance in the Champions League quarter-final first leg match against Barcelona.
"Criticism of Beckham is strange and unfair. He had a very good match. He followed the strategy I laid out to the letter and gave the ball quickly," the Italian told a news conference. "Did the way he played make me want to start with him again in the second leg? Yes, of course it did. If Paris were good in the first half-hour against Barca it's because Beckham was good as he looked to play quickly." Ancelotti was speaking after assessments that the 37-year-old former England captain, who started the game but was substituted after 70 minutes in the 2-2 draw, played the long ball well but fell short when it came to winning it. Others have raised questions about whether PSG's Qatari owners pressurised Ancelotti into starting with the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder for commercial reasons.
But the coach said: "It's wrong to say that Qatar told me, 'Beckham must play'... Club presidents can't force a coach to pick a player. "During my career, no president has forced me to pick a player, whether it's (AC Milan president Silvio) Berlusconi, (Chelsea owner Roman) Abramovich or Nasser (al-Khelaifi, PSG's majority shareholder).
"It annoys me that anyone can think that," he said. He added: "I'm not a friend of Beckham or a supporter. I try to be objective. A player doesn't play if he's not good in training. Beckham deserves to play even if he's 37 years old. "I've got one aim only: get PSG to win something, whether it's the French championship, French cup, or even, dare I say it, the Champions League."