I never thought I’d say this but I’m actually sick of hearing about Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba. It seems neither players are too keen with life at Old Trafford and could both be on their way in the January transfer window.
Naturally I hope both hugely gifted teenagers decide to put pen to paper on new contracts and stay with the Reds, but should they leave I won’t be losing too much sleep over it. Playing for United is all about desire, recently there was a video doing the rounds of a young Danny Welbeck getting taught a few tricks from Ruud Van Nistelrooy at Old Trafford. “I’ve got that DVD” our kid shouted as I showed him the clip on Youtube. He dug it out and we watched it as various United players, Scholes, both Neviiles, Ruud, Giggs, Ronaldo, put the United youngsters- and I do mean youngsters as they were about 12- through their paces. Then it was Keano’s turn, no, he didn’t make any crunching tackles or scream at them until they cried, but he did give them sound advice. The sort of advice Morrison and Pogba could do with heeding. ‘Playing for United isn’t just about talent” Keano noted, “you’ve all got talent but so have a lot of boys, what it takes to succeed here, is desire, you need to want it more than anything.”
There’s no denying that both Morrison and Pogba have talent, more than most other footballers their age, but do they have the desire? The desire to succeed at the very top? One player who does have that desire and also the talent is Ryan Tunnicliffe. With all the Morrison/Pogba hype this season, Tunnicliffe’s been busy getting a real schooling on loan at Peterborough.
Tunnicliffe’s gone from the fringes of the Posh team, coming on as a sub, making the odd start, to forcing his way into the starting XI- he’s started the last three games on the spin. Tunnicliffe has impressed that much at London Road, that he’s had his loan extended until the end of the season. Although he’s benefitted from an injury to Grant McCann, the youngster has been on great form and was praised by Darren Ferguson for a solid display in the 1-0 win over Coventry last month.
Tunnicliffe is an old-style box-to-box midfielder in the Roy Keane/Bryan Robson mould, not afraid to get stuck in with his tackles but with a great eye for a pass and a decent shot on him. Although in the past he has been criticised for letting his enthusiasm get the better of him with certain challenges, he seems to have worked on that aspect of his game and is now committing far less fouls, yet still making important tackles.
I first saw Tunnicliffe last season for the academy and was instantly impressed at a player that looked to be something of a ‘man playing against boys’ such was his strength and determination. Although the press may have been drooling over the likes of Pogba and Morrison it was Tunnicliffe who picked up the ‘Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year’ award, as United triumphed in the coveted FA Youth Cup.
This season, going on loan to Peterborough has been the perfect footballing education for the nineteen year-old as he’s learnt his trade in one of the toughest divisions there is as well as learning the value of patience and determination in earning his place in the starting line-up. While Morrison and Pogba have been stalling over new contracts and being the subject of various transfer rumours, the young lad from Bury, has been proving to both Sir Alex and his son Darren , who’s managing him at Posh, that he’s destined for a very bright future. The return of Paul Scholes, until the end of the season has been seen by many as a stop gap till the Summer when Sir Alex will whip out his cheque book and sign a big ‘star’ to come into the United midfield and sweep all before him. I’m just wondering whether Fergie hasn’t been told by his son, or seen for himself, that by next season Tunnicliffe may well be ready to fight for a place in United’s starting XI. Pogba and Morrison may be getting all the press this season, but it’s Tunnicliffe who’s been getting all the plaudits and as Keano advised those youngsters many years ago, has shown the desire needed to make it at Manchester United.