17 Jul 19
The Scottish Sun
IF Sir Alex Ferguson rates you, you must be good.
When Ravel Morrison, now 26, was a youth starlet at Manchester United, he was expected to become a legend at Old Trafford.
Ravel Morrison was expected to become a Man Utd legend
Sir Alex Ferguson said Morrison was the best young player he’d ever seen
Even the Red Devils’ hard-to-please ex-boss Fergie couldn’t help but pour praise on the youngster to his first team stars.
Rio Ferdinand once recalled: “Sir Alex Ferguson, I remember, he called me and Wazza (Wayne Rooney) over one day and said: “Look at this kid, he’s better than you. Rooney when you were a kid, he’s better than you. Rio, better than Ryan Giggs when you were kids.
“This is the best kid you will ever see.”
But it didn’t quite work out for the man touted to be the next Paul Gascoigne, who Premier League new boys Sheffield Utd have decided to take a chance on this summer.
Instead, Morrison bounced from club-to-club, desperate to recapture the magic that had many in the game believing he had the world at his feet.
A YOUTH STAR
Before he got a top job at Sky, Gary Neville worked with MUTV and regularly commentated on the club’s youth games at Altrincham’s Moss Lane.
[quote credit=”Gary Neville”]Ravel Morrison’s ability was just a scandal. He was playing in a midfield three with Pogba and Ryan Tunnicliffe. All of them were outstanding, but Ravel was the principal game changer.”[/quote]
He was instantly struck by Morrison’s ability, even though he was playing in a talented Man United side that had future stars Paul Pogba and Jesse Lingard alongside him in midfield.
“Ravel Morrison’s ability was just a scandal,” Neville once crowed.
“He was playing in a midfield three with Pogba and Ryan Tunnicliffe. All of them were outstanding, but Ravel was the principal game changer.
Morrison starred for an excellent Man Utd youth team
Playing alongside Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba, Morrison helped Man United win the FA Youth Cup in 2011
“He was an unbelievable talent, a Paul Gascoigne-type who could beat men and score some incredible goals. There are few players in central midfield who can beat people – Ravel could drift past them.”
Thanks to Morrison, United lifted the FA Youth Cup – ironically beating Sheffield United 6-3 on aggregate in 2011.
But instead of pushing on after making his United debut in a League Cup tie in 2010 against Wolves, Morrison mixed with the wrong crowd.
His first brush with the law came in 2008, when he was cautioned by police for common assault.
Three years later Morrison was lucky to avoid a jail term when he was charged with intimidating a witness who had been the victim of a robbery at knife-point.
Two of his mates weren’t so lucky, and had to do time.
[quote credit=”Sir Alex Ferguson”]He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed, but kept getting into trouble.”[/quote]
Then, just few months later, he was back in court again charged with assaulting his girlfriend and causing criminal damage.
He accepted a fine, but his Man Utd career was all but over with Fergie washing his hands with the talent.
In his 2015 book Leading, the Scot wrote: “Ravel Morrison might be the saddest case.
Off the pitch Morrison suffered many problems
In 2011, Morrison was lucky to avoid a jail term for intimidating a witness who was robbed at knifepoint by his mates
“He possessed as much natural talent as any youngster we ever signed, but kept getting into trouble.
“It was very painful to sell him… he could have been a fantastic player. But, over a period of years, the problems off the pitch continued to escalate and we had little option but to cut the cord.”
Sam Allardyce hoped he could do what Fergie couldn’t and tame Morrison’s off the pitch antics and help him fulfil his potential.
“I hope you can sort him out, because if you can he will be a genius,” the United boss told his counterpart as the deal was done.
But just a month after signing him, he gave Allardyce a headache when he posted a homophobic threat on Twitter.
Morrison was fined £7,000 for the misdemeanour and warned about his future conduct by the FA.
He was shipped out on loan to Birmingham, which ‘Big Sam’ hoped would be the culture shock needed to bring his career back to life.
But Morrison butted heads with Blues manager Lee Clark over his time-keeping and general attitude.
Sam Allardyce took a punt on Morrison, but failed to tame his wild side
Morrison was shipped out on loan to Birmingham, with Big Sam hoping a move to the Championship would be the catalyst to reignite the midfielder’s career
MORRISON’S DEFINING MOMENT
Morrison returned to Upton Park for the 2013-14 season with a different attitude, as well as a new shirt name after getting special dispensation from the Premier League to wear his first name on the back of his jersey.
‘Ravel’ said it was because he wanted to make a fresh start, and he certainly came out of the traps flying.
Two goals in his first five games repaid Allardyce’s faith, and it seemed he turned over a new leaf.
One of those strikes was against Tottenham, and is currently his defining moment in the game.
Collecting the ball from his own half, he drove past the Spurs defence before calmly lifting the ball over Hugo Lloris.
His performances on the pitch also earned him a call-up to England’s Under-21 squad, and he scored twice against Lithuania.
The most memorable moment so far in Morrison’s career is his wonder goal against Spurs
His form during the 2013-14 season saw him playing for England’s Under-21 side
Following another run-in with Allardyce, Morrison was shipped out to the Championship again, this time to QPR.
Six league goals in 15 appearances helped the R’s qualify for the playoffs, which they won at Wembley beating Derby County 1-0.
But Morrison was an unused substitute that day, and he was soon back in East London with his career in limbo.
A CHANCE IN WALES
Cardiff City took Morrison on at the beginning of the 2014-15 season in a three-month loan-deal.
In his first and only start for the club, he put in a man-of-the-match performance against Blackpool.
But when he was on loan in Wales, his confidence was disrupted when the Hammers put him on the transfer list.
He made just seven appearances in total for The Bluebirds before manager Russell Slade revealed Morrison had no future at the club.
Harry Redknapp passes on instructions to Morrison in a Championship match
Cardiff City washed their hands of Morrison after he failed to impress in a three-month loan
West Ham cancelled Morrison’s contract in 2015
A BRIT ABROAD
With his career in tatters in the UK, Morrison moved to Serie A with Lazio when West Ham cancelled his contract in 2015.
And life in Italy started well for the Wythenshawe lad, netting twice and providing two assists in a 14-0 rout of C.S. Auronzo in a friendly.
Morrison also made his Champions League debut for the Rome giants playing in the final eight minutes of a qualifying round game against Bayer Leverkusen with his team already 3-0 down.
An uneventful Serie A debut against Chievo, which resulted in a 4-0 thrashing saw his chances limited, and signs of struggling to settle-in began to show.
“I pick those who deserve to play, who train consistently, professionally and openly,” Lazio manager Stefano Pioli said at the time.
“Morrison has to work harder. He still doesn’t speak a word of Italian.”
Chances in Italy never came, with rumours suggesting he was homesick, and he was back at QPR on loan in 2017, who had an option to buy him for £2m.
A four-year spell playing in Rome for Lazio ended in tears for Morrison
Morrison also played for Atlas in the Mexican league
Most recently, Morrison was turning out for Ostersunds in Sweden
[boxout headline=”The life and times of journeyman Ravel Morrison”]Manchester United (2010-12)
West Ham (2012-15)
Birmingham (2012-13, loan)
QPR (2014, loan)
Cardiff (2014, loan)
QPR (2017, loan)
Atlas (loan 2017-18)
Sheffield United (2019)
The West London side passed on that opportunity and Morrison joined Mexican team Atlas on loan until the end of the 2017–18 season.
He showed flashes of brilliance in Liga MX, which prompted Ostersunds in Sweden to give him an opportunity last season once he was released by Lazio.
But Morrison’s contract was not renewed last summer due to injury problems and a large salary, despite being a favourite with the fans and management.
Now, Morrison is back in the Premier League after signing a one-year contract with the Blades following a successful trial.
And manager Chris Wilder believes he can get the best out of him.
“Ravel is an undoubted talent and we are delighted that we have put together a deal that suits all parties,” he said.
[article-rail-topic title=”latest football features” term_id=”12309″ posts_number=”8″ /]
“I’ve spoken to a number of people about him and it is clear that he has serious ability.
“We are getting a fantastic footballer with a tremendous pedigree and this is a great opportunity for Rav, we believe we can help him get back to the level he wants to be.”
It’s now up to Morrison to show the world what Fergie saw all those years ago, and prove the doubters wrong.
Morrison has been handed a Premier League lifeline by Sheffield Utd
Sheffield Utd boss Chris Wilder is the latest manager who believes he can get the best out of Morrison
[bc_video video_id=”6009528707001″ account_id=”5067014667001″ player_id=”default” embed=”in-page” padding_top=”56%” autoplay=”” min_width=”0px” max_width=”640px” width=”100%” height=”100%” caption=”Former Manchester United bad boy Ravel Morrison shows he’s still got it with debut goal for Swedish club Ostersunds”]