In January 2012, when West Ham United were looking for an immediate return to the Premier League, one of the recruits that Sam Allardyce brought in was Ravel Morrison.
But given his reputation, coupled with the recent events that have happened this week in his personal life, can West Ham justify keeping such a live-wire at the club?
Morrison started his career at Manchester United and it was very unusual for the then manager Sir Alex Ferguson to lose patience with a player. However when matters came to a head due to Morrison’s bad attitude and rocky personal life, Fergie felt that in 2012 it was time to part company.
Allardyce took the opportunity to buy the controversial midfielder and when he first arrived in East London from Old Trafford, the Hammers’ boss considered it beneficial for the young player to be sent out on loan to Birmingham City in order to gain first team experience at a lower level.
Blues boss Lee Clark later decided to leave him out for a few games due to his poor attitude and lack of effort in training and was even looking to shorten his loan deal. Luckily for Morrison this didn’t happen due to an impressive run of form when he was back in the team. He was called back by West Ham for the start of the 2013/14 season.
It took a little while for Morrison to gain a place in the first-team as he was given his first start in the 0-0 draw away at Southampton four games into the season. He continued to feature regularly and turned in some impressive performances until a groin injury ended this run and in the New Year he only appeared once. A reason for this could have been that Morrison had become disillusioned with the club due to pressure he was put under, particularly by the manager and skipper Kevin Nolan, to sign a deal with their agent, though this was vehemently denied my Big Sam and his players.
This all came to a head again when West Ham were preparing to face Norwich City at Upton Park. In the manager’s press conference the day before, Allardyce was asked if Morrison would feature, to which he claimed that the player was injured, when in fact he was in the process of securing a loan for the midfielder to join Queen’s Park Rangers until the end of the season.
Before the second game of the club’s tour in New Zealand, there were reports that co-owner David Sullivan and Allardyce had come to loggerheads over whether to offer Morrison a new deal. Sullivan sees him as a key part of the new attacking style of play that Allardyce has been told to implement, but Big Sam is not keen to comply with Sullivan’s sentiments.
As far as the move to the Olympic Stadium is concerned, the club still has two years remaining at it’s current home and many factors are subject to change over this period, however the co-chairmen are looking to keep the club going from strength to strength and they are of the opinion that nurturing young talent and creating stability within the Premier League is essential to the club, another reason why they want to keep Morrison in the squad.
Although Allardyce later had a U-turn and was preparing to open negotiations with the player, allegations of an assault on his girlfriend and her mother have come to light and have yet again cast doubts on the player’s future.
When he was in charge at Newcastle United, Big Sam took a punt on Joey Barton as one of his first signings. Barton was known for his controversial behaviour on and off the pitch but Allardyce thought that by taking him under his wing he would be able to encourage him to change his ways. However, Barton himself continued to get into trouble; perhaps this experience has made the manager more wary of poorly behaved players, which is why he is reluctant to keep Morrison on.
My thoughts on this matter are that I can see why the co-owners are keen to offer Morrison a new deal, but I feel that Allardyce has been proved right and that he should be backed in selling the troublesome player before his attitude and behaviour in training and his personal life begin to impact on his play.
There is no doubt that he is a promising player but it may be in the club’s interest to cash in while they have the chance. Stability is clearly what the hierarchy are looking for in the coming seasons; personally I don’t think that Morrison is one who will be able to provide this.