For years, Manchester United has been flooded with young talented prospects raring to show their talent and earn their place in the first team.
Old Trafford became a focal point for young stars to make their career breakthrough on the biggest of stages. It was no greater pleasure than for an academy prospect to walk through that famous tunnel before hearing the eruption of the ‘theatre of dreams.’
Such adrenaline and rush created from the fans, fuelled the greats of the club who once stood in Ravel Morrison’s position.
From the likes of the Busby Babes in the 1950’s, to the class of 92, United has always succeeded with youth.
However, no matter how talented you are, success is not always guaranteed. Ravel Morrison’s career is a great example of this.
This is Ravel Morrison’s story.
Morrison started out playing football for Fletcher Moss Rangers, before being scouted by the red devils and brought into the club.
The young midfielder received compliments of the highest calibre whilst at United. So much so that according to Rio Ferdinand, Sir Alex Ferguson said Morrison was the best 14-year-old he’d ever seen.
Such praise was a testament to the ability and talent the promising academy player had.
Phil Brogan was the scout who found Ravel Morrison at just eight years of age.
Brogan said: “I had never seen anything like Ravel before, I had this surge of excitement the moment I saw him. I knew I had found a boy—he was incredible—and I knew he could go all the way to the top. You just had to see him. It was the way he moved across the pitch, with or without the ball. He was amazing.”
He added: “On pure talent, I would say Ravel Morrison was better than Paul Pogba. Of course, Pogba had his many qualities—he was strong and athletic—but he couldn’t do the things Ravel could do; no one could. The other boys were in awe of Ravel. He just looked as though he was destined to be the best.”
Morrison was prominent in United’s 2011 FA Youth cup winning team with Jesse Lingard and Pogba.
Since then, Pogba has gone onto become a World Cup winner, and perceived as one of the best midfielders in the world with Lingard playing first team football at Old Trafford for years, before moving away but still playing at Premier League level.
However, for Morrison, he couldn’t emulate the success of his teammates.
Where did it all go wrong for him?
Once people saw Morrison, he was immediately compared to the greats of the past like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and many others.
However, Morrison just didn’t possess the work ethic, patience and consistency needed to become a United great.
Brogan said: “He needed to show patience. He got a taste but then got bored. He needed more games. When he was bored, he got into problems.”
When discussing regrets, Morrison himself spoke about how he’d skip training some days.
Despite his talent, the lack of drive and work rate was a major stifler in the Jamaicans career.
By 2012, major concerns had built up over Morrison and whether he could actually make it at the club with all his issues of the pitch.
Morrison had been in court in 2011 and fined £600 for throwing his girlfriends phone through a window during an argument. He admitted criminal damage but denied the assault charges. He was subject to a 12 month referral order in January of 2011 but avoided jail.
Thus, as a result, Ferguson made the difficult decision to let the youngster go.
Career after United
On the 31st January 2012, the former United midfielder joined Sam Allardyce’s West Ham United.
Allardyce loaned out Morrison to Birmingham City in the hopes of him gaining more first team experience having failed to make many senior team appearances for United.
The midfielder made 27 appearances scoring three and assisting three.
After a season in the midlands, Morrison had to get used to the London Underground with Allardyce ready to give him a go back in East London.
The Wythenshawe born talent made just 24 appearances for the Hammers, scoring five goals, and assisting two.
Allardyce said: “he was the biggest waste of talent I ever worked with.”
However, Morrisons perception on his period of time at West Ham is very different to that of Allardyce.
Morrison believed things turned sour after he refused the pressure from his former manager to sign Mark Curtis as his agent. Curtis also happened to be Allardyce’s agent.
The current day Leeds manager denied these claims.
Ultimately, with further deterioration of relations, Morrison was shipped off on loan to Queens Park Rangers.
At QPR, Morrison featured 22 times, scoring 6 goals and assisting two.
He was also shipped off to Cardiff for a short loan in which the failed wonderkid wasn’t able to impress the manager at the time, Russel Slade.
Slade said he had no future at the club. Subsequently, after making just seven appearances, Morrison returned to West Ham.
In January of 2015, Morrison made a pre contract agreement to join Lazio in the summer.
However, the Mancunians spell in Italy was uninspiring and resulted in him being loaned out to QPR again and then Atlas Guadalajara before leaving Lazio in 2019.
Morrison joined Ostersunds FK on a six month contract. This was not renewed and he became a free agent.
The former academy prospect joined Sheffield United that summer on a one year deal but was shortly moved to Middlesborough on loan. Neither club wanted Morrison and thus upon expiry of his contract, he was released at Sheffield United.
Morrison then signed for Ado Den Haag in September 2020 till the end of the 2020/21 season, but his contract was mutually terminated.
Wayne Rooney’s Derby picked the midfielder up in the summer of 2021 on a one year deal. The former academy prospect featured 38 times scoring five and assisting four.
Ultimately, upon Derby’s relegation, Morrison left.
The 30-year-old re-joined Rooney at DC United.
The Jamaican featured in all of DC’s last 14 league games. However, former teammate Rooney has decided to leave out Morrison for the 2023 campaign.
This leaves the former worldclass talent in a familiar position.
Therefore, Morrison’s career is the sad reality of what can occur if even the brightest talents lose focus and don’t possess the right attitude and motivation to work at the level needed to make it as an elite level footballer. At 30, Morrison could still have a few years in him and so the once fabled wonderkid will be hoping he can redefine his tainted legacy.