Jose Mourinho fell out with Roman Abrahamovic over him, Martin Jol tried twice to sign him for Tottenham and Barcelona were even watching him but those admiring glances and failed bids seem a long way off now. When he first burst in to the Premier League back in 2006, I was blown away by the lad’s power and pace, especially for an 18 year old full back and I thought to myself, that’s England’s number 2 for the next 10 years then. His swearing faux pas on BBC 1 added to appeal of young man at the beginning of what looked like a long and successful career ahead of him.
Yet, here we are 3 seasons later, and whilst it must be great playing for the richest club in the world, there are no more big bids coming in for Micah Richards. He now keeps getting linked with moves away from Manchester City, but not to Chelsea or Barcelona any more or he’s being used as a makeweight in an attempted deal as City look to bring in defensive reinforcements.His form was criticised several times last season and he found it tough going in City’s back line along with Richard Dunne.
Is it simply another case of a young talent who’s got too much too soon and simply is more interested in being out on the town or is he too tied up with the new prerequisite for Premiership footballers, a fashion label, MR. Certainly, Richards has been caught up in one tabloid scandal which certainly didn’t go down well with Fabio Capello. By not picking him for Englands last two games and leaving him the Under 21 squad whilst returning Gary Neville to the squad is a damming indictment of Richards current form.
Interestingly, I think you could possibly draw a comparison between Micah Richards and England’s new first choice right back, Glen Johnson. Johnson was another “next big thing” when he broke through at West Ham United and joined Chelsea, but Mourinho cut his losses and sold him on to Portsmouth after a loan spell which included being arrested for trying to steal a toilet set and some taps. At that time, you could suggest that Johnson was a young player who’d completely lost touch with football too.
That seemed to be the watershed for Johnson and he knuckled down in a big way and last season he was tremendous flying down the right wing for Pompey. Ironically, now Chelsea want to re-sign him for 3 times the value they sold him for. His performances for England recently have been fantastic, apart from a wobbly opening 20 minutes against Kazakhstan and he scored the Premiership goal of the season at Fratton Park last November with a belting 35 yard volley.
Richards needs to find himself again and whilst he’s only 20, football is littered with so many players who were Under 21 regulars but simply couldn’t push on to become England regulars, such as Francis Jeffers, David Prutton and Chris Vinnicombe. Richards is still young enough and certainly has the natural talent to make sure he doesn’t follow that particular trio down the football ladder but he needs to start working hard again. His manager at Under 21 level could tell him a tale or two about hard work, especially pulling yourself up from non-league football to a World Cup semi-final in 7 years.
Richards has shown the potential, now he needs to get back to concentrating on football rather than being a celebrity.