Let me begin with a depressing realisation, Ravel Morrison is arguably England’s answer to Mario Balotelli. A player seemingly destined to have his natural born talent overshadowed by his questionable attitude and off-the-field antics. Except unlike Balotelli, Morrison’s ‘indiscretions’ aren’t the light-hearted anecdotes of buying a trampoline when your mum sends you to John Lewis in search of an iron.
Morrison has quickly built a reputation as a stereotypical youth prospect driven only by financial greed rather than the lust to develop as a player. As a result the talented youngster soon found himself departing Old Trafford having failed to heed the famous words of Sir Matt Busby:
“You don’t need to chase money at a club like Manchester United, it will eventually find you. If you’re good enough, you will earn money and become rich playing for us, there’s no doubt about it.” (Mirror)
The new season therefore represents the perfect opportunity to prove a point and build on the elements that made the early stage of his career so promising. The same could be said for his new manager Lee Clark, who secured a 12-month loan deal for the youngster following his arrival at Birmingham, just four months after his shock dismissal from high-flying Huddersfield.
Clark has wasted little time in luring key figures to St Andrew’s who boast a wealth of Championship experience, which is perhaps why many fans were surprised to see Morrison join his list of imports. Squad harmony has proved a valuable trait for the recent success stories of Reading and Blackpool, so how will the current Birmingham squad react to the introduction of a potentially disruptive influence?
If Morrison was expecting an easy ride at Birmingham then he should brace himself for the barrage of expectation set to come his way. His goalscoring debut performance in the recent friendly against Royal Antwerp prompted Clark to compare the starlet to a young Paul Gascoigne, another talented player to have a career submerged in controversy.
“I was lucky enough to be around when a young Paul Gascoigne broke on to the scene at Newcastle…He just had this aura about him, that the ball was like a magnet to him.
“Ravel, without putting too much pressure on him, in terms of that is similar.
“Ravel has got that type of mentality where he always wants to be on the ball, he’s always trying to create things. He has got great composure.” (Birmingham Mail)
Perhaps fans are dreaming that Morrison could mimic the exploits of Adel Taarabt during QPR’s stunning surge to the Premier League in 2011. Both players share the same creative flair, an eye for goal and even a tendency to have a tantrum if things don’t go their way. Morrison does possess a lethal left foot, a rare attribute in modern football, which he demonstrated in the 2011 FA Youth Cup quarter-final victory over Liverpool. That game is to date Morrison’s greatest individual performance, which gives an insight into his minimal impact on the first-team of both the Manchester United and West Ham.
Morrison has endured a chaotic past six months as the subject of two big moves in quick succession. The upheaval of his life in Manchester has only benefited one person, his agent, which perhaps highlights the growing victimisation of the country’s next generation of stars. It’s easy to forget that Morrison is just 19-years-old having been the focal point of much excited debate since he signed his first professional contract in 2007. The Championship will prove a daunting and physical test for Morrison who will need to find the correct mentality in order to flourish.
The sound of the first whistle on Saturday will heap the pressure onto Lee Clark, not only to continue the progress made under Chris Hughton but also to satisfy the underlying expectations of a strong push for the playoffs. Ravel Morrison will either be perceived as the catalyst to make such a target realistic or the ticking time bomb Big Sam has carefully offloaded to ensure his own ambitions aren’t impeded.
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