Manchester United, this summer, had one of their best transfer markets, if not the best, under their new manager Jose Mourinho. But what took it to a completely different dimension was the world record signing of Paul Pogba. In all the discussion about how Sir Alex Ferguson and United, as a club, let one of the most exciting young talents slip under their fingers for practical nickels, another such player went completely under the radar. Ravel Morrison, who, along with Pogba, was touted to go on and do great things, has gone down in to a deep and dark abyss since his exit from Old Trafford.
It is a seemingly sad tale of a talent which has been wasted, at least so far, due to off-field issues rather than the on-field ones. A player who gets injured and loses his place eventually to spiral down the dreaded path of failure is one thing. But missing out on what could have been a blessed career, only due to focus and priority issues off-field, makes the story even more disappointing. The youngster who is now 23 years old has matured and has been forthcoming about accepting these very mistakes that he made.
“Manchester United and Alex Ferguson gave me too many chances. I can only blame myself and not look for excuses.
“A lot of the things I did wrong at United was silly stuff. It wasn’t because I was involved in robberies. It was more messing about playing computer games and hanging out too much with my friends when I should have been more dedicated to training.”
Morison’s tenure at United was marred by two counts of witness intimidation and charges of harassment and threatening his then-girlfriend along with other assault charges. Although he was cleared of the threatening charges, it did enough damage to his career at the time. All this eventually lead to him moving to West Ham United. Things looked up for him at the London club but after only 17 Premier League starts the youngster was shipped out on loan to Birmingham, Queens Park Ranger and then Cardiff. While his former youth teammate was smashing assists and goals helping his team win the Serie A, Morrison was struggling to impress in the championship.
The largely unsuccessful campaign in England then saw the hugely talented youngster move to Italy to play for Lazio. Unfortunately, things did not seem to get any better for the player, whose talent was once believed to remind a lot of United staff of Paul Scholes. His infamous “character” was again brought in to the question by his new manager, Stephano Pioli.
“I pick those who deserve to play, who train consistently, professionally and openly. Morrison has to work harder. He still doesn’t speak a word of Italian and this has slowed his development and his integration in the squad.”
The result of all this, Morrison ended up appearing only in seven games throughout the season, with just one start to his name. However, in spite of a difficult start in Italy, the attacking midfielder’s agent believes that his client is well-respected among Premier League teams.
“He is number 11 at Lazio. That’s his status. Clubs in England will always respect his talent, because he played in the Premier League at a young age and showed his talent against some of the best players in the world.
“That’s why his fellow professionals in England and Italy always speak so highly about him.”
Things started off better for the 23-year-old, this season at Lazio, in the friendly where he netted a goal and reminded everyone that he still has what it takes to score at this level. His agent, too, echoed similar opinions but did not comment on his current status at the club, leaving that for the manager.
“Last season [sporting director Igli] Tare said he is a special talent and is working hard. Fabio Ripert, the fitness coach, confirmed that he’s been working well in pre-season.
“As for his current status, you’d have to ask the coach. But he showed his high level in the match against Brighton [where he scored the only goal] and hopes to show his level again in the Germany training camp.
“He is ready for the responsibility of being an important player.”
It is not a surprise that everyone associated with the boy believes that he is a special talent, the problem is what he does with that talent. There hasn’t been a major breakthrough for Morrison in his career yet but one could only hope that he realizes the great disservice that he is doing to his abilities soon. He is still just 23 years old, one breakthrough season and things could change dramatically for the youngster. Let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later, the footballing world needs talent like his to grow and develop.