Ravel Morrison at West Ham — His Last Chance to Shine?

As the years have gone by, we’ve come to terms with the drama, the hype, the sheer adrenaline-pumping event known as ‘transfer deadline day’.

After weeks of agents, players and clubs dragging their feet, mulling things over and hoping for that one ‘special’ offer, the day suddenly arrives when all parties need to make a mad dash to the deal’s finish line before the window slams shut until another convenient time. On that day, various media outlets find themselves fully employed as they have to keep up with each event as it hastily unfolds.

The recently foregone transfer deadline day, for the first time in a while, stands in stark contrast; it was just ‘another’ day in the transfer window. Although there were last minute deals, there weren’t nearly enough to make one lose his breath; the ‘Financial Fair Play’ initiative gets full credit for that anti-climax.

There was one deal, however, that caught everyone by complete surprise–the transfer of Ravel Morrison to West Ham United. Heralded as one of Manchester United’s finest prospects to rise through the academy ranks, no word could dare describe the shock and dismay etched on United fans’ faces as he hustled through the Old Trafford exit door, never to be seen again.

The reported transfer fee–a mere £500,000–adds even more pain. His contract may have been set to expire at the end of the season, but surely United fans expected Sir Alex Ferguson–especially given the club’s financial plight–to do his utmost to keep hold of what was viewed to be a priceless talent at the club. The fact that Morrison was sold in the end, however, indicated that something was in the mortar besides the pestle.

Ravel Morrison--He Won't Wear the Red of Man United Anymore

Just what was the issue? It’s no secret–Ravel Morrison caused as many problems off the field for Manchester United as he did for opposition players on it. It’s a breed of player that just won’t stop spawning. Such a player harbours a mentality that has the ability to make him self-destruct–from both a personal and a footballing perspective–regardless of the amount of talent in his locker. It’s a mentality that stunts the player’s progression from a highly-rated prospect to a world beater. For every accomplished player like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in our modern era, there’s a  Tevez and a Cassano who don’t reach the peak they’re destined to.

If Ravel Morrison doesn’t wise up, he’ll make acquaintance with the latter pairing. He only has to look at those two players–and many others before and along with them– to see that such a ‘bad boy’ persona is nothing more than a dreary existence.

Sure, Antonio Cassano–although ill at the moment–may be suiting up for AC Milan these days; but this is probably his last chance to redeem himself after several high-profile bust-ups at previous clubs. Despite playing for powerhouses like Real Madrid and Roma, he never reached the heights he seemed so destined to.

Carlos Tevez now finds himself in a similar boat. Sir Alex Ferguson was very hesitant to organize a permanent transfer for the Argentine after his loan spell ended in 2009, much to the bemusement of United fans. Only after he made his switch to Manchester City did everyone understand the reason behind Ferguson’s hesitance. Fast forward to 2012 and now Roberto Mancini is ready to cut him loose after another high-profile bust-up.

Like Cassano, Tevez seems set to get another chance to redeem himself with a few top clubs very interested in his services. However, even he–despite winning the Premier League, Champions League and Club World Cup–has failed to reach the dizzying heights he could have.

Gone but Not Forgotten--SAF is Sorry to See Morrison Go

The common ground shared between these three players–Carlos Tevez, Antonio Cassano and Ravel Morrison–is that they all blew their chance at a big club. Tevez and Cassano were fortunate enough to end up at another top club, but that was because to an extent, they fulfilled the promise everyone knew they had. Ravel Morrison is still a kid. Since debuting in 2010, he made just 3 substitute appearances in the League Cup for Manchester United; yet he has already found himself on the move. He hasn’t had the opportunity to really live up to all the hype that surrounds him. Saying that, he has already seen one of the game’s greatest managers wash his hands on him; so he has to be very careful this time around.

He has been given a decent opportunity–to win promotion with high-flying West Ham United. He is at a club where he will get a lot of game time and he is in a league that will nurture his talent and ready him for the rigors of the top division. He has been pulled away from the bad influences that were reportedly leading him astray in Manchester. This is his time. If he blows this chance, there’s no telling what kind of career he may have.

Already, he has found himself in hot water at his new club with an FA charge for homophobic comments made on Twitter grabbing the headlines. That’s not a good first impression. He has to bear in mind that all he has now is nothing. He’s too young and too unfulfilled to play the ‘player power’ game.  He may have potential that surpasses all possible boundaries; but he hasn’t fulfilled it yet. Having a humble attitude will keep him in line and will only benefit his development now and in the future.

'You better not give me any trouble, Ravel!'

One can make the argument that he is young and will grow out of this phase, but after already blowing his chance at his parent club, if he blows his chance at West Ham, by the time he ‘grows out of it’ it may well be too late. He’s not in the same boat as Mario Balotelli. Balotelli blew his chance at Inter Milan; but while there, he showcased what he is capable of. Despite his many off-field problems, he was fortunate enough to get a chance to work with Roberto Mancini at fast-growing Manchester City. Mancini knows him personally and worked with him before; Morrison and Allardyce have had no prior dealings.

Yes, Morrison may have been bought at a bargain, but if the baggage proves too much to take for West Ham, with nothing yet proven he may well find himself struggling to get another chance; and the football world will miss out on what could’ve been one of the finest players ever to grace the sport.

Posted under: English Premier League, Player Analysis

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