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Saturday, Jan. 21, 2012

PREMIER REPORT

Morrison, handlers have lost the plot


London

We may never know how good Ravel Morrison could have been, but we already know how bad he is.

Christopher Davies

Morrison, 18, has played three games for Manchester United, yet the winger is so highly rated at Old Trafford that they believe he could be another Paul Scholes. As he made his way through the academy system, where he mesmerized the youth coaches, it was quickly obvious Morrison was a star in the making.

But despite his tender years — probably the only aspect of Morrison that tender can be used to describe — in 2011 he pleaded guilty to two counts of witness intimidation and was placed on a referral order that expires this month. He has a police caution for assaulting his mother. It is alleged, among other things, he has failed to turn up for training on occasion.

Word is United are ready to allow Morrison to leave Old Trafford because a player who has a temper rather than temperament is asking for too much money.

Yes, an 18-year-old is pricing himself out of United's range. They could agree terms with Wayne Rooney, but not Ravel Morrison who is said to earn £1,200 a week, which is probably £1,000 more than most kids his age.

He has rejected United's offer of a new contract and Sir Alex Ferguson, who described the forward as "very, very talented," said Morrison and Key Sports Management had made "unrealistic" demands and that "his agent has been working very hard to find him another club."

It was not too long ago that a young player at Old Trafford happily accepted any new contract offered because they were with the biggest and most successful club in England.

Isn't that what every footballer wants?

To be with the best?

Why move?

Times are changing and perhaps in the eyes of some being with the best is not good enough. If Morrison, who must clean up his off-field act wherever he plays, is as good as Ferguson and his coaches believe — and they are not bad judges — he could soon be pressing for a place in the first team.

Riches of every kind are virtually guaranteed at the Theatre of Dreams, but maybe Team Morrison is happy with the millionaires knackers yard.

* * *

THE METROPOLITAN Police will heave a huge sigh of relief if John Terry is sent off against Norwich on Saturday because it would mean the Chelsea captain is suspended from next Saturday's F.A. Cup fourth-round game at Queens Park Rangers.

Terry is scheduled to face Anton Ferdinand for the first time since the England international was charged with using racist language against the Rangers defender when the teams met last October.

QPR manager Mark Hughes has confirmed Ferdinand will play, while Terry is adamant he wants to lead Chelsea even though the match comes only four days before his magistrates' court hearing in relation to the Ferdinand incident.

The inevitable hostile reception Terry will receive would not bother him, but the clash of the rivals as an hors d'oeuvres to a court appearance presents a serious security risk. Extra stewards and police will be on duty at Loftus Road, but the worry is one hothead will revel in his 15 minutes of fame to make the wrong sort of name for himself.

* * *

ROBERTO MANCINI admits his waving of an imaginary card on the touchline after an opponent has, in his view, committed a red-card offense, does not influence the referee.

Which begs the question: why do it?

The Manchester City manager has been in charge for over two years, so the "cultural difference" argument he tried to cite does not wash as he has only just started the card trick. Of course, he could easily be stopped by strong match officials because what he does can be deemed as dissent by action.

If Mancini becomes a card shark again Sunday when Tottenham visits Eastlands, the fourth official should report Mancini to referee Howard Webb, who has the power to send him to the stand, a Football Association charge would follow and hopefully the Italian would get the message that the waving of an invisible red card is not a very good idea.

While City lead the Premier League, they have lost three of their last five matches, the absence of the suspended Vincent Kompany and YaYa Toure who is on African Cup of Nations duty, are significant.

Victory for Spurs, unbeaten in nine, would put them within two points of City and their midfield of Aaron Lennon, Luka Modric, Scott Parker and Gareth Bale is as good as any in Europe outside of Barcelona.

Edin Dzeko scored four times when City won 5-1 at White Hart Lane last August, but Spurs will be a very different proposition this time.

* * *

CHRISTOPHER SAMBA, the Blackburn Rovers defender, has had a transfer request rejected. Samba had hoped the club would respect his decision to leave, just as he respected their decision to offer him a new, improved contract 11 months ago which runs to 2015.

The Congo international joined Rovers from Hertha Berlin, where he was a bit part player, for £400,000 four years ago. At Ewood Park, Samba has become one of the most dominant defenders in the Premier League, a status Blackburn isdesperately trying to cling on to.

Why do the words rat, sinking ship and desert spring to mind?

Christopher Davies was a longtime Premier League correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.


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