I remember when I was still playing football on a regular and competitive basis. One weekend our team traveled to Olney, Maryland to play against their travel team. Here in the States, we don’t have academies, really; we have what we call “select” or “travel.” Aside from ODP (Olympic Development Program), it’s the closest we have to competitive youth football.
So, we get there and the atmosphere is pretty typical. Olney was known for being a dirty team. Even the parents were dirty – yelling at the opposing team’s kids, swearing, threatening, etc. We never ever liked playing them. From the get-go, their kids are acting like total heathens. It quickly turns into a battle. As the game got into the last few minutes, one of their players slides in studs up – from behind – and takes down our sweeper. In the heat of the moment, I chase him down, a la Wayne Rooney, and absolutely take him out. The play was dead. Everyone saw it. Ref shows me red. I knew it was coming. I storm off the pitch, more upset at how out of hand the game had gotten than actually getting the red. My coach grabs my arm, looks at me, and reprimands me for stooping to their level. I didn’t want to hear him, so I grabbed my bag and stormed off to the car to wait, a la Balotelli. He was old and he didn’t get it. He was out of touch with the game. I was 13 and that’s exactly what I was thinking at that exact moment. In that instance, I had no desire to listen to anyone. I was above it all. I was right; I was defending my player; I wasn’t going to be told otherwise. Sound familiar?
In light of everything that’s happened over the last year with players like Tevez, Balotelli, Rooney, and now Ravel Morrison; it is impossible for me to not draw parallels when hearing the rumors this past week. The biggest difference though? I WAS 13. I wasn’t a professional. I had nothing to throw away. I was never going to play for United. I wasn’t being scouted for a club team. I wasn’t even being scouted for college. In that moment, though, I felt entitled. The unfortunate parallel with our current situation is that Ravel Morrison feels like he’s entitled EVERY moment. Entitlement is one of the many problems with young players nowadays. “What are people going to give me right now?!”
You’ve heard it all week. Ravel is the best thing to come out of the academy since Paul Scholes. He’s been told he’s the next best thing for years and the boy is only 18. Think about having a little chip on your shoulder, but imagine everyone feeding that ego from the time you were 10 years old. It’s created the person that Ravel is now. He doesn’t take direction cause he just doesn’t care. He doesn’t listen to what wiser and more seasoned players/coaches tell him cause he thinks he knows better. In the end, players like Morrison – who have talent for miles – end up doing only what’s best for them. He’s with United and he’s on the biggest stage. He knows what’s being said about him and he knows that the exposure he’s getting now (negative and positive) is something he wouldn’t have seen at another club. He thinks he’s setting himself up for a payday by being at United – and that’s what he cares about.
The truth is he’ll get paid somewhere. Some team will pay the fee we agree on and he’ll go to their team and collect a check that would make people who would appreciate it grateful for it beyond words. To him though, he feels like it’s owed to him. I’ve got news for him: He hasn’t earned anything from us. He’s played in three League Cup games. He’s making more money than 99% of 18 years make. He has talent to make him millions of dollars and win lots of trophies, but he’s most likely going to sacrifice 15-20 million pound contracts years down the road for a fraction of that right now. He lacks the reasoning, idealization, and perspective to know this. He wants his and he wants it now. Someone as legendary as Fergie isn’t going to be able to change his mind. He’d respond to a younger manager who has proven he can do the job. As much as it pains me to say it, someone like Mourinho or Mancini. I GUARANTEE he looks up to Balotelli and would secretly (or, in the not-too-distant-future and not-so-secretly) love playing for City.
When it comes down to it, Ravel is the type of player who doesn’t respond to elders well. Take it from me; I was a little heathen in my day, too. He doesn’t respond to authority well. It could be his upbringing or it could just be him. What’s going to happen in the next few months is that he’ll most likely leave United for a fee we’ll most likely shake our heads at. He’ll go to a team that needs a player right now, not a team that will sit him on the bench (would probably rule City out). He’ll get a couple pounds to put in his pocket, but he’ll have sacrificed his future for his right now. Who knows if this kid will end up being great? We can’t get inside his head to figure this whole thing out. Maybe he’ll listen to sound reasoning and stay?
But like I said yesterday, the only thing stopping Ravel Morrison from being great is Ravel Morrison.
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