Ravel Morrison could be Allardyce’s trump card

Ravel-Morrison_3It was quite fitting that in a week where Sam Allardyce made his move for an orthodox winger, Stewart Downing, the free-roaming Ravel Morrison staked his claim for a place in West Ham’s first-team squad.

If one man serves as Downing’s antithesis, it is Morrison.

After all, one is clean cut, unassuming and predictable; the other is cocky, electric and laced with tricks honed on the estates in Wythenshawe.

Yet, even if Allardyce has deployed Morrison in central midfield, the duo could be vying for a place in West Ham’s first XI next season.

So, while Downing’s potential signing would be a predictable Allardyce buy – given his similar qualities to Matthew Jarvis, in aiming to provide Andy Carroll with decent service – few could have imagined Morrison coming into the reckoning.

Just ten months ago, Morrison’s West Ham career looked finished before it had even begun after Lee Clark nearly terminated the 20-year-old’s loan spell at Birmingham due to Morrison’s poor application and attitude.

Allardyce was not impressed – Morrison clearly felt he was the finished article and above the confines of the Championship despite having played just four games in senior football before this loan spell.

Yet, amid all the wake-up calls Morrison has had since joining Manchester United in 2009, Morrison’s work-rate improved dramatically under Clark and the winger started in the final nine games of Birmingham’s season.

It looked as if a corner had been turned, but this has been a running theme in Morrison’s short career.

Here is man who, yes, grew up in Wythenshawe – one of the largest council estates in Europe – but too many have tried to link this upbringing to Morrison’s future misdemeanours.

What is often forgotten is that Wes Brown grew up in the exact same circumstances; Morrison’s future flaws were centred on character, temper and maturity.

Whether it was assaulting his mother, Sharon Ryan, at the age of just 15, posting a homophobic message on Twitter or letting his teeth get into such a bad state that he required emergency surgery to remove seven of them, Morrison’s prodigious ability has continually been offset by worrying setbacks.

The fact that West Ham gave the youngster a three-year contract on a basic wage of £12,000 – that could possibly rise to a whooping £65,000 depending on the amount of Premier League starts he makes – suggested that the situation would only worsen.

Clearly, though, something has changed in the past six months or so and, encouragingly, that has come about without Allardyce’s acclaimed man management or the guardianship of club captain, Kevin Nolan.

After all, Allardyce put the careers of the likes of El Hadji-Djouf, Joey Barton and Andy Carroll back on track and Morrison, with his new-found maturity, looks set to follow suit in the coming seasons – given how his renewed approach shows his commitment to his profession.

Reflecting this fact, the attractions of East London, such as the notorious Faces nightclub in Ilford, have yet to tempt Morrison and the midfielder has recently found God.

Of course, with Morrison’s previous, there is always a caveat: will the 20-year-old be able to maintain his commitment as Allardyce, patiently, eases him into Premier League football?

Still, having scored an impressive six goals in pre-season and having been handed the number 15 shirt, it is clear Allardyce has faith in Morrison and the youngster could be an important player from the bench.

Also, West Ham fans love a flawed individual, with the likes of Frank McAvennie, Ian Bishop, Julian Dicks, Slaven Bilić, John Hartson, Neil Ruddock, Paolo Di Canio, Carlos Tévez and Carroll all thriving as cult heroes in the past 25 years.

The chance to join this elite group and play regularly in front of the roar of Upton Park will only spur on Morrison’s continued development.

The Author

Ciaran Kelly

Sports writer and author of José Mourinho: The Rise of the Translator, featuring exclusive interviews with key figures not synonymous with the traditional Mourinho narrative and Johan Cruyff: The Total Voetballer, an ebook which peaked in the Top 40 of Amazon's top 100 Sports Books' chart. I have also written for Britain best selling football magazine, FourFourTwo and other British publications. I am a fully qualified reporter with an NCTJ Diploma in Journalism and a Masters degree in Sports Journalism from St. Mary's University, London.

One thought on “Ravel Morrison could be Allardyce’s trump card

  1. Ravel was brilliant for us last season, once he’d been given a bollocking by Lee Clark.

    Hos work-rate in training was poor and Clark too exception and dropped him from the entire matchday squad for a few weeks,

    That seemed to be the wake-up call he needed and when he returned, he was imperious. He makes the game look so easy and when he played in the hole behind the lone striker, he dominated games.

    Would have loved to have had him back this season, as would Clark, but he has shown already in pre-season that he is capable of much more.

    I just hope he keeps his head screwed on. All the best, Ravel!

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