Reports this morning claim that Ravel Morrison is of interest to Lazio. Supposedly, West Ham will allow the troubled midfielder to leave the club for free and, given the volume of negativity around Morrison in this country, a move abroad does seem the most plausible next step for him.
Morrison has created a lot of his own problems, for sure, but there’s clearly more to his situation at Upton Park than meets the eye.
(From Daniel Taylor’s Guardian column of 15th February 2014).
It seems like all of Morrison’s issues at West Ham started shortly before that article was published. Towards the end of 2013 he was in sensational form and, of course, he scored that wonderful goal at White Hart Lane.
But then…who knows. He last played for Sam Allardyce on the 18th January 2014 (vs Newcastle United) and was then never seen again in the West Ham first-team. That was also roughly the point at which all of those rumours about Fulham started to circulate and Morrison, who had previously exhibited no obvious signs of discontent, suddenly appeared strangely eager to move clubs.
This isn’t an unambiguous situation: Morrison, by all accounts, is a very difficult person to manage and his periodic battles with the Crown Prosecution Service seem to reinforce that.
This is Sam Allardyce’s current take on the situation (via The Mail):
“Most young talented players I worked with over many, many years who I’ve met later have said, “Oh, I wish I’d listened to you”.
When you meet them later in life they regret not taking the opportunity with the talent they had. It’s never just about talent, it’s about a lot more than that.
‘You can lead the horse to water but you can’t make it drink. There’s only a certain amount of times you can tell somebody what they should or shouldn’t be doing. If they don’t want to take it on board there’s little you can do.”
That all sounds very plausible and it’s very much a criticism that you would expect to hear leveled at Morrison.
The history between him and Allardyce doesn’t suggest that a gradual deterioration took place. If a manager grows frustrated with a player - which is not unusual - you might expect to see his game-time being limited for a while and for his appearances to grow fewer and fewer.
There’s ordinarily a visible curve to such a fall-out.
That didn’t happen here: Morrison was in the side one week and then removed and exiled the next - and that doesn’t match-up with Allardyce’s version of events. That sequence of events doesn’t sound like the product of creeping disenchantment, but rather of a single, serious falling-out.
Remember, also, that this was a West Ham side who were struggling badly a year ago and who really weren’t in a position to shun a player of Morrison’s ability. With relegation at stake, Premier League managers typically don’t posture out of principle.
Very odd - and, in all likelihood, we’re never likely to hear the truth.
As for Lazio, maybe that’s that’s the best way forward for Morrison?
Being a highly-talented but deeply troubled athlete means that the limelight will always be hard to escape and that’s especially true for young English footballers playing in this country. In a different league - where he would be just another player - maybe he would find the right environment to progress?
And ‘environment’ is pertinent in several ways. In a footballing context, obviously, but also socially. Without knowing much about Ravel Morrison’s lifestyle or friends, it seems safe to assume that removing him from his current surroundings would be in his best interests.
Of course, if he was just to transplant all the existing components of his life into another European city, then it would be a redundant move, but it does in theory offer the opportunity of a fresh start.