SVEN-Goran Erikkson gave David Beckham a slap on the wrist yesterday, warning him to be more careful about what he does and says.

Beckham has retained the captaincy of his country with nothing more than a mild rebuke from the man who has stood by him throughout his recent dip in form and widespread demands for him to be dropped.

Many will consider the Real Madrid midfielder to be a lucky man.

In terms of own goals, Beckham's admission that he got himself booked deliberately against Wales, knowing injury had already ruled him out of the follow-up game against Azerbaijan, was as spectacular as they come.

He boasted to a national newspaper that his ploy proved that he was cleverer than he was given credit for. It actually proved the opposite because he left himself open to censure from the football authorities for bringing the game into disrepute.

We have often supported David Beckham in the face of fierce criticism. But once again, the publicity machine which dominates his life - and which he encourages - has overshadowed signs that England are starting to put together a team with world class credentials.

With a squad of players capable of making a real impact in the 2006 World Cup in Germany, we need a captain whose judgement can be trusted.

It is time Beckham realised how privileged he is to be the captain of England and make sure that it is wonderful goals, like the one he scored against Wales, which capture the headlines.