Is this the season when Ravel Morrison will finally announce his arrival?
Once regarded as the best young talent at Manchester United, Morrison has already hit the headlines during his fledgling career to date. Unfortunately, these headlines have been more likely to appear on the front of your newspaper rather than the back.
Like the time in early 2011 when he received a 12-month referral order after admitting two counts of witness intimidation. Or later that year, when he was advised to undergo domestic violent counselling after a spat with his girlfriend. And then there was the time he was charged by the FA for posting a homophobic threat on Twitter.
Despite these off-field troubles, the feeling at Old Trafford was that Morrison was worth persevering with. But when he declined the offer of a new contract as his existing deal entered its final six months, Sir Alex Ferguson decided to cut his losses and allow the youngster to link up with his good pal Sam Allardyce at West Ham United.
The thinking behind the midfielder’s decision was that he would be given the regular first team football at Upton Park that he couldn’t secure in Manchester. But his nine-minute substitute appearance in the 1-1 draw at Leeds United was all the action he saw during his debut season in the capital, and the following campaign, he was shipped off to Birmingham City, for whom he scored three goals in 27 Championship appearances.
Now 20 and trouble-free in recent times, Morrison is back with the Hammers and determined to prove his early promise. He claims the time he spent at St Andrews’ last season, under the leadership of Lee Clark, is a key factor to getting him back on track, and having been fully involved in Allardyce’s pre-season programme, he now feels as though he truly belongs to rub shoulders with the first team members of the squad.
“The players helped me,” he has told the official club website. “They were all looking after me, helping me and pushing me forward, and I’m going to carry on what I did in pre-season. I am really enjoying my football, and hopefully I can get a Premier League start.”
Even the last part of this quote shows how Morrison has perhaps matured since his days at Old Trafford, when there was a growing sense that he had a misplaced opinion of his own worth to the club; that he felt he should be fast-tracked to Ferguson’s first team. In short, he believed his own hype. Now, he appears to be willing to work hard to earn a start.
And start he did on Tuesday, when he put in a Man of the Match performance in the 2-1 Capital One Cup win over Cheltenham Town. Okay, this was against opposition who currently find themselves in the bottom four of the fourth-tier in English football. But he can only face what’s in front of him, and he did so with some fine passing and the goal he scored, from the edge of the area, shows he knows how to find the back of the net.
The key thing for Morrison is to now continue to work hard, and if he is overlooked for a starting role when Stoke City visit on Saturday, he shouldn’t let it get him down – because if he can maintain his current attitude, he will get his chance sooner or later. And at still only 20-years-old, he can then perhaps go on to have the career Ferguson once thought was sure to take place in the red half of Manchester.