Talented, yet troubled. The stark and resounding opinion of Ravel Morrison, a player labelled “too good to fail” by MUTV co-commentator Paddy Crerand.
The new man at West Ham has begun this new chapter in an all too familiar and controversial fashion. A recent homophobic outburst on Twitter means he joins an ever-expanding list of professional sportsmen who have fallen foul of the social networking site.
The advent of Twitter has created a platform for direct communication with leading sports stars across the globe. The growing popularity and social significance of the site has enabled users to gain an unprecedented insight into the daily routine of the Premier League’s elite. Whilst this appears beneficial, there is an undeniable truth that these players will inevitably fail to meet our high expectations.
The problem with Twitter, for footballers at least, is that there’s no filter guarding the content they choose to reveal. There’s no PR guru standing beside them handing out carefully crafted scripts of 140 characters, which is evident from the woeful level of spelling and grammar on display. Twitter essentially creates a face-to-face confrontation, which is what makes it so dangerous.
Sarcastic comments, tongue in cheek remarks or full-blown rants on mediums like Twitter are often instantly regretted. The words are permanently etched into the fabric of the Internet, serving as a constant reminder of past indiscretions, like an ex-girlfriend with a photographic memory.
Although Morrison quickly deleted his derogatory tweet, issued in response to an insult he’d received, the damage was already done and the FA have given him until Monday to explain his behaviour. What seems all to clear is that drastic action is needed, both by the player and the respective authorities.
On the surface, Morrison appeared to be revelling in a modern day rags to riches tale. Having grown up on a council estate in Wythenshawe, Manchester he was spotted by former United coach Phil Brogan and signed a professional deal on his 17th birthday. He was quickly earmarked as a gifted individual and was said to be one of the best players to come through the ranks since Ferguson’s ‘golden generation’.
Despite only featuring for United during three individual League Cup appearances, Morrison showcased his limitless potential during their impressive FA Youth Cup triumph in 2011. A quick glance on YouTube will reveal the lightning feet and deft touches that have seen him hailed as the next Paul Scholes but perhaps Paul Gascoigne is a more fitting comparison, given their similar unsettled social life.
Morrison’s career has been blighted by a series of off-the-field problems, an upon Morrison’s exit from Old Trafford, Ferguson revealed:
“…he’s better out of Manchester. He’s got a great talent but how to deal with that is important.” (Telegraph)
Perhaps the relocation to the bright lights of London will provide a humbling experience for the youngster and allow him to leave his troubled past behind him.
At West Ham he has a boss famed for his no-nonsense attitude to management, which will make it difficult for him to step out of line. Sam Allardyce is often credited with the revival of Joey Barton’s career after signing the fellow prominent Twitter user whilst at Newcastle. If Morrison has left United seeking guidance then it does raise the question why didn’t he look for it closer to home? Ferguson’s substantial influence on the careers of Roy Keane and Wayne Rooney are well documented.
Allardyce might see Morrison as the key to convincing Hammers fans that beautiful, attacking football is once again returning to Upton Park. Despite enjoying a successful start to his Championship campaign, there is an underlining concern that his direct style of play isn’t suited to a club of West Ham’s traditions. Nevertheless, should Morrison get the chance to showcase his creative flair then those murmurs of discontent will soon disappear.
Morrison can learn a lot from the likes of Mario Balotelli and Adel Taarabt, proof that there is room in football for eccentric and often controversial characters. There is also evidence here of what lies in store for him should he refuse to change his ways, with both players repeatedly falling out of favour at their respective clubs. It remains vital that he continues to grow as a person as well as a footballer.
At just nineteen years of age, journalists should be touting his potential on the back pages rather than condemning him into the football abyss. It’s time for Ravel Morrison to put his head down, keep his mouth shut and let his feet do the talking.