Ravel Morrison – Where did it all go wrong?

Ravel Morrison – Where did it all go wrong?

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From United’s next star to Mexico – Where did it go wrong for Ravel Morrison?

Once hailed as the heir to Paul Gascoigne’s footballing throne, Ravel Morrison has possibly become the biggest waste of talent football has ever seen. Despite being the star man in a Manchester United youth team that included the likes of Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard, Morrison’s off-field problems has seen the former England youth star apply his trade in Mexico at Liga MX side Atlas.

The attacking midfielder, standing at just 5ft 9 was one of England and United’s brightest talents, but like so many others has never lived up to his full potential. Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as the “best talent he had ever seen for his age” on joining United, what exactly happened to Ravel Morrison?

The ‘next big thing’ at Old Trafford

Morrison was brought up in a working class area of West Manchester in between Old Trafford and United’s Carrington training ground. A young Morrison was spotted by United scouts whilst playing for Fletcher Moss Rangers, which was also made home by other former United academy stars Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Danny Welbeck. Morrison impressed United enough to sign with them as a scholar at the tender age of 17.

Morrison starred in United’s youth ranks including scoring twice in the second leg of the 2011 FA Youth Cup final to clinch a 6-3 aggregate win over Sheffield United and made his first team debut in a League Cup tie with Wolves in October 2010. Then United manager Sir Alex Ferguson described Morrison as having “as much natural talent as any youngster we’ve ever signed” but the attacking midfielders off-field problems were causing major problems at the club.

Morrison’s off-field antics were becoming more and more difficult for the club to put up with. United had supported and backed Morrison despite him being convicted of intimidating a witness to a knifepoint robbery, plus a number of criminal damage charges and many people at Old Trafford believe that if the youngster was 10% less talented then he would’ve been kicked out of football by the time he was just 16.

Ferguson especially persisted with the youngster, moving him into the senior players dressing room to try help turn his attitude around, but the senior players became exasperated with the youngsters attitude and he eventually became too much to handle, with Morrison being sold to West Ham for just £650,000 in 2012.

 

West Ham – A second chance?

“I hope you can sort him out, because if you can he will be a genius” Ferguson told former West Ham boss Sam Allardyce when Morrison moved to East London. Ferguson hoped that moving away from Manchester and the crowd of people that Morrison had fallen into would be the exact thing the youngster needed to refocus on his career with the Hammers.

The best spell of Morrison’s career to date was at Upton Park. During the 2013-14 season Morrison began to break into the Hammers first team and managed 5 goals during the first half of the season, including a stunning solo effort against Tottenham which impressed Allardyce “Ravel picks the ball up in his own half, heads directly for Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson, slips those two like they weren’t there, waits for the keeper to go down – a keeper who’s shown how good he is at one-on-ones, and how quick he is off the line – then uses his outstanding ability to dink it over him. The genius of Ravel Morrison. That is a genius goal for me. You will struggle to see a better goal than that this season.”

Morrison had seemed to have sorted out his off-field antics and was looked at as the most exciting young Hammer since Joe Cole and Michael Carrick were coming through the ranks, but his time in London was about to come to abrupt end after a falling out with Allardyce. Morrison claims to have been dropped from the West Ham side due to him not signing with agent Mark Curtis, who had a number of links with Allardyce. Allardyce seemed to get his way after the disagreement and Morrison was on his way out of Upton Park. After Morrison’s preferred move to join former youth coach Rene Meulenstene at Fulham was blocked, Morrison eventually joined Lazio in 2015.

More struggles abroad?

Italian giants Lazio took a punt on Morrison due to his links to Paul Gascoigne, who is a legend at the Serie A outfit, but the Englishman didn’t enjoy his time in Rome, making just four appearances in two years at the club. His coach Stefano Pioli criticised Morrison for a lack of professionalism in training and an unwillingness to learn Italian. He was loaned back to London to rejoin QPR in January 2016 but only made 5 appearances and didn’t do enough to convince the West London side to sign him for just £2 million.

For the 2017/18 season Morrison joined Mexican side Atlas on loan “Atlas wanted a statement signing but the club made him feel very important, went beyond their means and the most important factor is that the coach counts on him” agent Dan Wilson said and Morrison had one of his best seasons since his youth career. He made 18 appearances in Liga MX, more than his last three clubs combined, scoring 3 goals and Atlas reportedly want to re-sign him on loan for this campaign.

Last chance saloon

Once regarded as the ‘great hope’ of English football, it’s doubtful that Morrison will ever put on a Three Lions shirt at senior level after being in talks with Jamaica to represent them in March, but the chance to play regular football in Mexico may get him back to the level he showed during his youth days.

Still at just 25 years old, Morrison has plenty of time to make a name for himself in Europe’s top leagues. Natural talent like Morrison’s doesn’t just disappear, so the ability to make it to the top is still there, if he can find the right place to revitalise his career.  Whilst redemption and a return to the elite for someone who Ferguson once described as “the saddest case in football” may be unlikely, he still has some time on his side to turn his career around.

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