By Nick Xydias (Birmingham City fan).
When Birmingham City signed Ravel Morrison on loan from West Ham United on 5th August 2012, most Blues fans would have met the news with excitement and wonder. Excitement at his technical ability and wonder in relation to whether Lee Clark could manage to extract consistent performances and commitment from him.
He was, after all, allegedly sent home from West Ham’s pre-season tour in order to have 7, yes 7, teeth extracted! His brushes with the law have also been well documented elsewhere.
At the time of writing, we have reached mid-March 2013 and 9 games of the season remain. Morrison has made 18 league appearances, scored 1 league goal and provided 2 assists. Hardly the most impressive set of statistics.
What conclusions can we draw from his loan spell?
There is no doubt he is a player of superb technical ability. He has a wonderful first touch, the ability to spot a pass and is strong and competitive. He hasn’t in fairness taken any game by the scruff of the neck this season but has made big contributions to some games, not least last weekend’s victory versus Derby when he came on as a second half substitute and was instrumental in a superb comeback, helping secure a 3-1 victory.
When playing well, he has a great knack of linking up with other nimble, quickfooted players to launch attacks and counter-attacks. Indeed, after many a lackluster defeat in which he hasn’t played this season, many Blues fans have taken to social media to question his omission from the matchday squad.
I suspect that many Manchester United fans won’t be surprised that the real problem with Ravel Morrison lies in the application of his ability and his focus. He gets easily distracted by less skillful but persistent opposition midfielders, he still struggles to fulfill his defensive duties, he can often easily concede possession and drifts in and out of games. It was after all Johan Cruyff who said: “Football is a game you play with your brain”. Therein lies the conundrum.
There have also been rumours of a failure to fully apply himself in training and Lee Clark has openly conceded to having to speak to Morrison about his application in training. When this happens, it’s never a good sign. Just ask Nikola Zigic!
At the end of the season, when his loan expires, Morrison will return to West Ham United he’ll have had more experience under his belt and a greater knowledge of what it takes to succeed.
Will he apply those lessons at West Ham? Will he be trusted to? In my view, it will take a great leap of faith for Sam Allardyce to regard Morrison as one of his first choice midfielders next season and another Championship loan spell is more than likely.
I suspect that Morrison is the kind of player that has managers pulling their hair out in frustration. If Sir Alex Ferguson and Sam Allardyce have not yet managed to forge a strong bond with Morrison and get him to produce his best on a consistent basis, Lee Clark never had a chance.
I really do hope that Ravel Morrison fulfills his potential and goes on to achieve the success that his raw, innate ability demands. I suspect, however , that this is unlikely unless and until he reassesses his attitude to the game and whether he is prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to succeed at the very top.
Nick is a member of the bcfcforum.co.uk forum and you can follow him on twitter HERE.
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