Is Morrison’s West Ham career already unraveling?
The questions are inevitable, and thoroughly depressing. Is West Ham’s gamble on Ravel Morrison beginning to unravel? Is his move to Birmingham City, on a season’s loan, the beginning of the end? Was, once again, Sir Alex Ferguson correct, in allowing a supremely talented misfit to leave Manchester United?
Morrison is only 19, but he has attracted sufficient controversy for several lifetimes. His personal problems go before him and cloud judgements. He has played just 14 minutes of first-team football since moving to West Ham from Man Utd on transfer deadline day in January, in a deal which might eventually be worth £3m.
In retrospect, West Ham was the worst possible club to join. They lack a clear sense of direction and are burdened by an exaggerated sense of expectation. They are linked with a random collection of players in the transfer market, which indicates they have yet to develop a cohesive strategy for survival on their return to the Premier League.
Sam Allardyce’s friendship with Sir Alex ensured he knew what he was getting into with Morrison, who played three times for Man Utd, but effectively priced himself out of a future at Old Trafford. His departure was a source of regret, because United’s coaching staff privately raved about his potential as an attacking midfield player or second striker.
In a football sense, Morrison might benefit from a season of regular football in the Championship, under an intense, yet engaging, manager like Lee Clark. But, as so often in his short career, things are not that simple. Birmingham are in disarray, and will enter the new season under a cloud.
Owner Carson Yeung is on £1m bail, and banned from leaving Hong Kong until his trial in November, when he must answer five counts of money laundering. Birmingham’s finances are in a parlous state and they have little option but to cash in on their principal assets, such as goalkeeper Jack Butland.
Those close to Morrison feel he has been judged harshly. They paint a picture of an impressionable young man, who is determined to make up for past mistakes. A magistrate’s warning that he faced prison if he did not change his ways hit home, hard. He is ready to prove the doubters wrong.
You hope for the best, but fear the worst.
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