Ravel Morrison. Possibly the greatest talent to come through Manchester United’s youth ranks since the class of '92 and tipped to be one of the greatest English players of this generation, the next great saviour for the England national team, so just why would a player who has the world at his feet seem so intent on throwing away a potentially glittering career?
This Monday just gone the kids from Old Trafford beat Sheffield United in the FA Youth Cup final, with Morrison scoring two of the goals and earning himself the man of the match award after yet another outstanding performance by the youngster.
An excellent dribbler who uses an array of tricks and skills to beat a player also with an ability for an amazing pass it’s easy to see why his own senior teammates and football writers are drooling at the prospect of seeming him break through into the first team and comparisons to some of Europe’s best players are not too wide off the mark.
Here’s a quote from Henry Winter from the Daily Telegraph when writing about what Ferguson has done for the English game:
“This is the club boss who could supply more than half of England’s starting XI in Ben Foster, Wes Brown, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves and Rooney, let alone cultivating Ravel Morrison as a potential gem for 2014. Better than Kieran Gibbs and Jack Wilshere, certainly up there with Jack Rodwell, if Morrison does emerge as the pre-eminent English footballer of his generation, it will be because of a certain Scot’s shrewd guidance.”
Also here is another quote from Michael Calvin at The Mirror:
“He is beautifully balanced, blessed with a searing turn of pace and strength of shot on either foot. Morrison’s vision, close control, physical dexterity and unerring opportunism remind me of David Villa. There is a touch of Wayne Rooney, the street footballer, in his instinctive refusal to be intimidated. He can play in central midfield or anywhere across a modern, fluid, front three.”
So all sounds good then? Unfortunately not. The black cloud that has followed other gifted players through their career, for example Best and Gascoigne, has already started to tailgate Morrison’s. At only the age of 17, he is already a footballing bad boy on the kind of proportions that would make the likes of Joey Barton blush.
Growing up on a Wythenshawe estate in Manchester notorious for gun crime and gangs, it would always be hard for Ravel to stop his life becoming intertwined with others who lived that life, but it seems now that he embraced it with open arms and doesn’t want to strip that part of his life away.
His first taste with the law (in public knowledge) came when he was just 15 picking up a police caution for assaulting his own mother. Not too long after that he and three other friends were stopped in a car by the police where they subsequently found guns and cocaine in the car. At the age of 16 the academy player was starting to embarrass the club but one of Ferguson's famous traits is his utter devotion the kids at the club.
In January, aged 17 he got a 12-month referral order from court after admitting two counts of intimidating a witness and was warned if he breached the order he would spend time behind bars. The court was told Morrison had subjected the victim of a street robbery to a two-day ordeal to try to stop him giving evidence at the trial of his muggers, this included threatening phone calls as well as leading a mob to the victim’s house and put a brick through the window.
On the field his temperament has got the better of him there too. In the FA youth cup game against Liverpool he got into a war of words with one of their players and then threatened him with his supposed gang-land connections. Also recently in a reserves match at Carrington against a Newcastle reserve side he got into a feud with one of their players and was running around the pitch waiting to get his chance to boot him and he eventually got it and earn himself a red card. Then he had to be restrained at full time when he came back out after him for a second round. All this happened under Ferguson's watchful eye, who was a spectator in the crowd.
And finally his latest and hopefully last visit to court came on Tuesday morning when he was facing charges for assaulting his girlfriend of three years. It was the second time in two years he had been up for assaulting his girlfriend and just like two years ago she dropped the charges when it got to court. He managed to escape a prison term which would have certainly ended his United Career before it even managed to take off. The court heard he is paid £3,400 every month after tax, and decided to fine him £600, £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. Not a lot considering all of his actions.
The judge of the case has recommended that Morrison attends domestic abuse counseling decisions and also anger management classes. Here is what the judge said about him:
“Any domestic investigation and help that needs to be given can be given through the youth offending team, I'm sure you appreciate that behavior like this is not acceptable. You're obviously someone with a considerable future and you must at all times understand that a loss of temper, no matter what the provocation, is not acceptable.”
So what now for Ravel Morrison? Will he go to fulfill his destiny as potentially one of the greatest midfielders of his time and prove himself to be the answer and the future of Manchester United’s and England’s midfield?
Or is it down the dark path that could lead to his career being washed out within a couple of years, in prison known as a thug thinking what just could have been with a life that many of us would give anything to have, just to have a shred of his ability.
He is one lucky guy to have the opportunity just to play football at a high level, never mind to play for one of the biggest club in the World, and hopefully he’ll now get his head down and realize it. Because if he makes one more mistake, Sir Alex Ferguson may finally have to make one decision that deep down he doesn’t actually want to make.
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