x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Ravel Morrison's misdemeanours heard on Manchester grapevine

Most footballers in Manchester score highly with Mancunians, says Andy Mitten, but too many times tales of the gifted young midfielder's talent were overshadowed by more sinister stories.

The majority of the coaching staff at Manchester United lost patience with Ravel Morrison, the hugely talented young attacking midfielder, a long time ago.

They persevered because their boss, Sir Alex Ferguson, insisted.

The senior players were exasperated with the 18 year old too. How could someone so talented, they wondered, be at fault so often? They had all made the necessary sacrifices to become a footballer and they had reached the top.

The rewards were there for Morrison to see every single day, the status, respect and accoutrements of wealth. It frustrated the players even more that someone with more natural talent than most of them appeared to be throwing it away in a series of mishaps, misdemeanours and more - far more - serious issues.

There is a strong grapevine in Manchester. It helps people in the city cut through the media image of footballers.

Mancunians want to know what someone is really like. They hear stories about Manchester City's Joe Hart, for example, being a good person, someone who has time for others. Ryan Giggs also, though tales about his private life have long been legend. It made many a Mancunian smirk when Giggs was hailed as a saint when everyone knew he wasn't.

Most players score quite well on the grapevine, ratings based on chance meetings in shops and clubs, on the words of friends and work colleagues, of little anecdotes which help piece together a profile. And by what you can see with your own eyes on a football pitch.

Not so Morrison. Almost every story - and there are many - concerns him being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people.

His influences appear to be gangster chic rather than Gary Neville. He comes across like he doesn't care, not about now nor the future. It is incredibly sad to see.

Some sympathy must be extended because he's endured a difficult upbringing, but so have many other footballers.

What sets them apart is that they are prepared to learn and listen to people like Ferguson, one of the best protectors and developers of youthful talent in football.

Morrison is not and Ferguson, his greatest ally, has finally lost patience.

Morrison is a Mancunian. United fans should be proud that a hometown boy has come through the ranks to become a full professional at the English champions.

The Old Trafford dressing room is full of characters from Brazil to Bulgaria, Spain to Serbia, yet there is a little knot of local talent led by Giggs and Paul Scholes which still dominates and sets the tone for what is right and what is not.

It was hoped that Morrison could be a local legend himself, but fans knew long ago that it wasn't a given and unlike most who don't make it at Old Trafford - and most emerging footballers don't make it - it was nothing to do with talent.

There is often talk of a 14 year old being the next Giggs or Scholes, but the reality is that most young professionals get released and drop down a division or two before starting their career proper. After the disappointment of leaving Old Trafford, they tend to be honest enough to acknowledge that they were not up to the standards of United's first team, but the education they had at the Carrington training ground put them in excellent standing for what lay ahead.

It is especially frustrating, then, when a player does have the talent and the right physical attributes and luck with injury to succeed but still manages to mess it up.

United supported the teenager through his court appearances for the serious charge of witness intimidation. Fans supported him, without much thought for the victim of his crime. They wanted him to come good and saw glimpses in an FA Youth Cup-winning side last season and in three first-team appearances from the bench in the Carling Cup.

Morrison might yet fulfil his immense talent, but it is likely to be at the United of West Ham rather than Manchester.

Many hope he proves the doubters wrong, but they won't be surprised if he doesn't.

 

sports@thenational.ae

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