Follow me:

Learners’ podcast – week 15 Beckham and England

On this week’s learners’ podcast Damian reports on the England team and David Beckham while Damon has another English for Football phrase. Try out our worksheets or online quiz to help you practice your listening and vocabulary skills. If you click on the audio when it is playing on an iPod you can see the transcript as you listen. It’s a great way to practice listening and fluency!


The final round of European Championship qualifiers take place this week and with England’s chances of making the finals in Austria and Switzerland next summer hanging by a thread, languagecaster decided to focus on some of the issues that are currently surrounding the national team. With no Premier League matches to cover this week, the British media is full of stories about the real possibility of not qualifying, the roles of David Beckham and Steve McClaren in the team, as well as the controversial issue of limiting the number of foreign players in each squad. We asked a group of England fans their opinions on these matters.

Poor away form has cost Steve MacClaren’s men dearly culminating in that 2-1 defeat against Russia last month that has left England relying on other teams to help them qualify for next year’s tournament. Even if they beat Croatia at home on Wednesday they will not make it unless Russia drop points in their game at Israel on Saturday night. So, possible but not very probable.

Simon: I think Israel will draw 1-1 with Russia and we’ll beat Croatia 2-0.

Paul: I must admit I have kind of lost a bit of interest. It’s not of course down to us it’s the game between Israel and Russia and… I don’t know I’m not taking a lot of interest, I’m least excited about this international game that I have been for a long time.

Tim: I think they’ve left it too late this time. I don’t think they will even beat Croatia.

So a mixed bag from our selection of England fans but how do they feel about former captain David Beckham’s return to the team?

Simon: I think if they play against Croatia I’d put him on in the second half perhaps but I don’t really think he’s really necessary at the moment. I think in the changing room he might be useful but actually on the pitch I’d stick with Shaun Wright-Phillips.

Paul: Once he’d been dropped by MacClaren I think he should have stayed dropped. But since he’s been brought back, perhaps it’s been a short-term fix, I’m okay with it.

Tim: He is a step backwards really.

The manager Steve McClaren’s job is under threat and he appears a dead man walking despite the fact that some of the England players have come out in support for him this week.

Tim: Well, he should never have been the manager of England so I don’t see why… but one thing you could say is he may have learned something on the job and if you look at Bobby Robson he had a pretty rough start and by the end of it in 1990 he was… he looks like one of the best managers we’ve ever had. So maybe McClaren is picking up some skills I don’t really see evidence of that though.

Simon: No, he’s never been good enough and I think most English fans sort of… the same opinion. I personally would want Mourinho in the job because I think he might actually win something for us.

Paul: If we could get somebody better – a Mourinho, a Hiddink – I’d get rid of him in a second. But I fear that the malaise of the team isn’t so much down to him but the structure of the Premier League and the playing demands.

Another suggested reason for England’s demise is that there are not enough young homegrown players being given the chance to play in the Premier League. The issue of having a domestic quota in each league, limiting the numbers of overseas players, is a controversial one that, frankly, smacks of desperation at best and protectionism at worse.

Tim: I think it’s ridiculous really I don’t see it as being the reason England is so poor. Maybe we should limit the number of coaches or the … have some kind of quota system to get the coaches up to a certain standard. But we want to see the best football in our country and at the moment, finally, we are actually attracting the best football in our country and I don’t see why we should stop doing that.

Simon: I think it’s very good because British players should be playing in British teams and you look at Arsenal and they play lovely football but there is hardly an Englishman on the pitch. So, I am an advocate of having maybe 5 Englishmen or not just Englishmen but 5 British players or Irish players per team So actually I agree with that idea.

Paul: I think legally it’s very difficult to do, there are all sorts of EU regulations which relate to this but I really hope they can and I really wish they would because I think for most football fans, of course you’ve got your club which you care about but also you care about the national team and you want the national team to do well. I think there is not enough opportunities for good English players. The problem is that… the Premiership has got so much money they can afford to buy the best players in from around the world so… you’ve got to be one of the very best English footballers to get a game so I would be very much in favour of bringing it in even though it might reduce the quality of the Premiership product a little bit.

DF: Wow, interesting stuff. Thanks very much.

Welcome to the website that helps students interested in football improve their English language skills. Soccer fans can enhance these skills with lots of free language resources: a weekly podcast, football phrases, explanations of football vocabulary, football cliches, worksheets, quizzes and much more at

Google | Facebook | Twitter | Mail | Website

Join the discussion

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Further reading