Alex Ferguson has questioned the merits of David Beckham securing a loan move to the Premier League by warning that he will not be available at the most crucial stage of the season, writes Mark Ogden.
Beckham, 36 in May, is expected to agree a two-month loan from LA Galaxy to Tottenham this weekend and could therefore make his debut against former club Manchester United at White Hart Lane next Sunday.
But United manager Ferguson, who sold Beckham to Real Madrid in 2003, claims that the short-term nature of Beckham's likely loan will have its disadvantages.
Ferguson said: "The thing with David (pictured), if he comes to England, whoever takes him on, he will have to go back in March.
"It's a very short-term loan and we had the same situation with Henrik Larsson in 2007. We utilised those two months very well and Henrik played a great part. He added to our squad at the time and it was beneficial.
"But we always knew that we would miss him at the very time when we would have liked to have had him, at the tail-end of the season.
"He left in March and we could have done with him in April and May, but that was the arrangement we had, so we had to move on."
Beckham's ability to cope with the pace and intensity of the Premier League has been questioned, with Alan Hansen insisting last week that the former England captain will struggle to adjust.
And Ferguson admits that Beckham himself will accept that he is nearing the end of his illustrious career.
"Obviously, anyone at 35 years of age is looking at the twilight years of his career," Ferguson said. "I have players at United like Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville who grew up with David and are at the same level.
"They know they are coming towards the end of their careers and the horrible part of being a manager is seeing that.
"These players, who have been with you so long, are eventually going to retire and David knows that better than anyone."
Ferguson's compassion for Roy Hodgson will not prevent him from fielding his strongest available team in tomorrow's third-round FA Cup tie for what could be the Liverpool manager's final game in charge.
Ferguson will resist the temptation to put out a weakened side and will recall Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar should they prove their fitness after injury and illness respectively. Rio Ferdinand will start the match, having been rested for United's 2-1 win over Stoke City in midweek. (© Daily Telegraph, London)