Ravel Morrison was described by Sir Alex Ferguson as “the best kid you will ever see”. While he belonged to a talented youth team, who claimed several trophies, Morrison was the best of the lot. Those in the know had been talking about him for years, with him playing above his age group and still proving to be the most skilful player on the pitch.
Rio Ferdinand claimed that Ferguson told him that Morrison was better than Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs at that age, which is praise indeed when you consider how much they achieved at a young age, and what they went on to achieve over the course of their careers. He also said that the likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard used to look up to him an
“This guy was the best young kid that I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve never seen a guy look so comfortable on a football pitch,” Rio said.
However, while Pogba and Lingard have won loads of trophies, with the former lifting the World Cup last summer and the latter scoring in two cup finals for United, Morrison has achieved nothing in his career. Now 26, he plays for Swedish side Ostersunds FK, following stints at West Ham, Birmingham, QPR, Cardiff, Lazio and Atlas.
In an interview with The Times, Morrison claims that he isn’t bitter about their differing fortunes though and still speaks to both of his former youth team mates.
I’m in touch with Paul and I speak to Jesse all the time. They’re doing great. I’m not going to turn around and think: ‘That could have been me. That should have been me.’ Stuff happens. They’re happy, I’m happy for them. I’m not going to be a spiteful or negative person. Life’s too short for that.
While he’s keen to stress that he isn’t the same kid who made all those mistakes 10 years ago, which included several brushes with the law, it doesn’t appear as though he’s quite come to accept the part he played in the demise of his football career.
While Ferguson insisted that it was “painful” selling Morrison to West Ham in 2012, because “the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and so we had little option but to cut the cord”, the player seems to think the club could have done more for him.
I didn’t need to get away from Manchester. There were times when I did something wrong, but often it was just wrong time, wrong place, wrong crowd and it wasn’t even me doing something, but because I was there, it was easy to point a finger at me.
Around that time, they were moving other young players to big houses in Sale with their families. They told me I had to move to Gorton with my gran because it was further away from Stretford. There were a lot of players in that team who had a father and a mother and already lived in a nice area, who were moved to Sale. I was brought up by a single mother, but they moved us to Gorton, which is not a spectacular area by any means. So I don’t think it’s right to say they tried everything. It’s easy to say it, but I think if you asked a few people around the club at the time, they could have done a lot more.
Without knowing the details of the decision making, it seems obvious that the club wanted to move him away from the negative influences in Stretford in favour of some stability and discipline with his grandma in Gorton. While east Manchester isn’t on the other side of the Earth, it would still put more distance between him and the people he knocked about with, compared to the two mile trip between Stretford and Sale.
It’s genuinely puzzling that Morrison can’t see it that way. He was the most highly thought of player in the ranks. Why did he think the club were moving less talented players than him to Sale and getting him to Gorton? Because they didn’t want him to have a nice life? They will have been desperate to do anything to get him on the straight and narrow. Yet he thinks they should have done more, and by more, he means moving him to Sale, even though that wouldn’t have had any impact on his life as it would have kept him close to the people he was getting himself in to trouble with.
It’s a shame. He could have been so much more than he is.