Ravel Morrison: England’s next wasted talent
At this point in time, England is scrambling around to find the next batch of young footballers. A lot has been written about England’s lack of great players or players comparable to that of Spain and Germany. With the “golden generation” seemingly long gone and Wayne Rooney hitting the dreaded 30, who have we got to replace them? One incredibly talented, yet difficult player is Ravel Morrison– a great talent, but one who seems to find it hard sticking to just football. It seems he is the next English talent, to be underused by the English national team.
For all our discussion over a lack of young talent, what we don’t talk about is the talent we’ve wasted. Michael Carrick, Le Tissier, Scholes, all spring to mind as probably some of our best players, but also players who we never saw the best of playing for England. All were hugely talented and all were never used to the fullest potential for England. Ravel Morrison is a similar player, although not as much in the limelight, never has such a young player gained so much attention without playing much football. Born in a poor council estate in Manchester, it is not exaggerating to say Morrison has never really escaped from his childhood roots. Harry Redknapp once spoke of him as “an amazing talent. But his attitude makes you think about where he’ll be in six years’ time”- something echoed by every manager he’s had.
Joining Man United in 2009 and then signing his professional contract in 2010, Ravel Morrison was once hailed as one of the best talents seen a Old Trafford by Ferguson. Following numerous court appearances and contract issues smattered with excellent performances Morrison was sold to West Ham. He subsequently spent two seasons on loan at Cardiff, Birmingham and QPR. Fast forward to February this year and Ravel Morrison has been released from West Ham with Allardyce saying “it’s difficult to watch such a great talent wasted…..he just has to change his whole life”. Now why do I talk so much of Ravel Morrison- the reason being that he’s yet another English player to be wasted. Michael Carrick does not have the off the field issues of Morrison, but here’s a talented player who changes how his team plays every time. In a time where we constantly argue that we have no players to control the ball in tight games, Carrick has long played the controller or more “quarterback” position for Man U. At 33 he only has 33 England caps, but has amassed 379 appearances for Man United – playing an integral role for the club. Every team needs their metronome in midfield, a protector of the back four and a midfield who is smart with the ball- a Busquets or Pirlo style of player. Carrick is skilled at both to such an extent that Arsene Wenger once said “he is a quality passer. He could play for Barcelona”, something he demonstrated perfectly against Italy recently.
Both Scholes and Hoddle were similar players to Carrick, both world class. Paul Scholes is arguably one of the best midfielders of his generation. A quick type into Google and you will find endless quotes on how good Scholes was- notably from Xavi, Zidane and Ronaldinho. Arguably one of the best passers ever seen in the English game, Scholes only managed 66 caps, when really he should have passed a 100. Often moved to the left to accommodate Gerrard and Lampard, Scholes retired from England in in 2004 and if anything became better as he got older.
Hoddle similarly played in era where attractive football was never fully appreciated. A player highly regarded by those he played with, but also most of the players he managed, Hoddle only made 50 caps. Once termed by Wenger as “world class” and even having Ossy Ardilles and Michel Platini backing him to have more caps if he weren’t English, a rare player who could pass and score at equally high levels, Hoddle was a skilful midfielder playing in a time where skill was often spotted. Probably pegged back due to his supposed “arrogance”, spiritual beliefs and the fact that he was better than the players he coached. Hoddle was revered in France and the best way to put it, as Jean-Luc Ettori (Hoddle’s club captain) said “for us Glenn was le bien dieu- he was god”.
It isn’t just the skilful midfielders we’ve missed out on either, it was the astonishing attackers too. Matt Le Tissier is one the finest attackers England’s ever seen and was rightly so called “Le God” on the South coast. Another player idolised by Xavi, Le Tissier could glide past players and often left everyone wondering how he did what he did. Probably held back by his affection for Southampton, ironically Le Tissier only made 6 caps and cites the his relationship with Hoddle as a detriment.
So what is my point? The crux of this piece is that England have an extraordinary ability to mishandle players. All the players I’ve mentioned are arguably some of the best England had in their respective eras. Yet none, are considered England greats. We constantly look for the next great England player yet some have been in front of our faces. It seems to be the norm that we look back at past players and think “what a player he was” – not for England though. We need to stop labelling young players as the next best player, but also realise that if a player plays well, age shouldn’t matter. We need to find a solution and quickly, otherwise we’ll be talking about Carrick and Morrison in the same vain as Le Tissier, Hoddle and Scholes- wasted genius. Maybe English football should stop looking at other countries for club level inspiration and talent and look at the hand we’ve been dealt.
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