AUTHOR: – Mr Mujac
Some years ago there was outrage, and rightly so when Roy Keane led a posse of Manchester United players towards referee Andy D’Urso and then proceeded to surround him for a perceived poor decision. The club and the players in question were rightly rebuked by both the press and the Football Association. Alex Ferguson publicly agreed that the players had gone too far, that they had a responsibility to themselves and the fans – that Manchester United are better than that.
I am pleased to say that it has been very rare to see any United players surround referees in the same way since.
A few years later and one particular junior player got himself into a spot of bother at the United Christmas party when some of the senior players invited ‘ladies’ to the event. Alex Ferguson stepped in again and banned all Christmas parties of this type.
It must however be hard for a man who is in his 70th year to keep track on the personal lives of young twenty-something footballers. Especially when they decide to live continually in the media spotlight with their ‘inappropriate’ behaviour. I mean, they are adults aren’t they?
In the past Ferguson has been quick to move on Ince, Stam, Beckham, Van Nistelrooy and even Keane when they criticised the club or he has deemed their behaviour to be ‘not in the best interests for the club’. Alex Ferguson always seems to have the art of man-management or performance management down to an art form. And if you step out of line then you know where the door is!
So this leads me to Ravel Morrison, one of Manchester United’s talented new generation of Academy products. I don’t think anyone would disagree that Ravel is a wonderfully gifted player. He has represented England through every youth level, made his first team debut in the Carling Cup this term and has been the ‘talisman’ for the youth team throughout this year’s FA Youth Cup run.
Born in Wythenshawe in Manchester on the 2nd February 1992, it is fair to say that Ravel’s upbringing has been anything but stable. He attended St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Stretford and later St. Anthony’s Catholic College in Urmston. However, he had disciplinary problems throughout his schooling, resulting in suspensions and expulsions. His home life was equally disruptive. Ravel joined Fletcher Moss Rangers in Burnage from the age of seven, following in the footsteps of Wes and Reece Brown and although he had trials at Manchester City he joined United when he was eight years old.
Since that time there has been a catalogue of alleged issues with his behaviour from threatening other players, threatening opponents, getting involved in fights, alleged gang activity, to his more recent trouble of being arrested by police for being in a car carrying weapons and subsequently witness intimidation. In addition, he has also had on the field problems leading to a number of red cards.
So when I read today that Ravel appeared in Salford Magistrates Court on Wednesday charged with assaulting his girlfriend and causing criminal damage, I wasn’t really surprised. Why should I be? After all, past behaviour is the best indicator of future behaviour.
The 18-year-old-midfielder who signed professional terms on his 17th birthday, is already under a court referral order for witness intimidation which was given out by Trafford Youth Court back in January. The media reported today that he was given conditional bail on the assault charge and the hearing is adjourned until the 25th of May.
However, clearly the youngster has severe behavioural problems. You don’t have to be a trained youth worker to understand that let alone be a behavioural psychologist. When I speak to other fans they are totally bemused by the situation:
“I don’t understand him at all…he has a fantastic future in front of him…”
“Doesn’t he realise that he has an opportunity to get away from all his troubles?”
“The lad is so talented but has no brain whatsoever…”
Personally, I have no idea about Ravel’s mental state. That’s not my job. I do wonder however about the impact his behaviour has on other youth players in the Academy and the image this portrays to the wider world. I am not happy with players representing my club dragging our name through the courts. If it was a first team player I would be vitriolic! It’s embarrassing!
So what have Manchester United Football Club done?
After the latest two court cases the Club have made no comment. In some respects I understand this. In a bid to protect the player they may be playing down the situation. But in today’s media frenzied environment, where Facebook, Twitter and the internet pass information around the globe in seconds people understand that something is amiss. We aren’t stupid! So a ‘no comment’ statement just leads to more speculation.
The club have banned him, suspended him and even put him in digs with a Reserve player in a bid to manage the situation. But is this enough?
I would have thought that the club, who employs this player, would have sought out professional help for him and would have put the player in a more stable environment. Maybe they have done, but where is the statement about the positive action they are taking to resolve the situation? I would like to see the club actively doing something.
However, in reality, I would have thought that someone at the club would have decided that no matter how talented a player is, there is a limit to how much of this behaviour is acceptable and called time.
It is not OK to threaten people, it is not OK to intimidate people and it is not OK to assault someone.
When is someone going to say “Ravel, enough is enough”?
AUTHOR: – Mr Mujac