You always want your academy players to come through the ranks and make a success of their career in the first team. The one youngster who had people talking more than any other was Ravel Morrison. Not just because of the controversy that surrounded his personal life, but because of his supreme ability.
Nearly ten years ago, when Morrison must have only been a child in our academy, I read an article about United’s youth set up and the revolutionary coaching strategies put in place by Rene Meulensteen, who was then in charge of our youth. They referred to him, not by name, but said that coaches at the club had the same expectations of success for Morrison as they had for our stars in the Class of ’92. That he was a shining light at youth level, head and shoulders above anyone else they had seen for years.
It was because of his talent that United stuck by him for so long, when any other youngsters would have been shipped out a long time before. But it reached a point where enough was enough, his behaviour off the pitch as well as his behaviour at the club, not showing up for training and the like, pushed them over the edge.
It was leaked to the papers that Morrison was looking for another club and that he refused to sign the contract United had offered him, but the truth of the matter was there was no contract on the table. United had to cut their losses.
The club sold him to West Ham, with Sir Alex Ferguson not doubting the lad’s talent, but telling Sam Allardyce that Morrison needed to get away from Manchester. He was loaned out to Birmingham and has now returned to West Ham, where he is enjoying some great form for a not so great team.
A couple of weeks ago, Morrison returned to Old Trafford with his new team but failed to make much of an impression, other than with his studs on Tom Cleverley’s ankle. The fans weren’t too impressed to see him, with a dull boo heard around the ground when his name was read out at the beginning of the game, but the majority were entirely apathetic.
“I don’t know if there is a buy-back clause and what that figure might be if it even exists,” Allardyce said in October. “But my real big worry is that Manchester United will come back to buy him.”
There is a clause, which you imagine Allardyce was pretending to be in the dark about, which means United could bring him back to Old Trafford for £18m. However, this isn’t the only clause in his contract. If United bid £10m for Morrison, West Ham either have to sell him to us, or they have to pay him £60k-a-week. That figure would quadruple what he is currently earning. When you consider that captain Kevin Nolan is on £55k-a-week, it simply is not an option to pay Ravel that sort of salary.
There is 18 months remaining on Morrison’s current deal and West Ham are keen to agree a new contract with him and remove the clause regarding his salary.
We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes though and so it’s fairly useless to speculate. The problems with his career that came with the influences in Manchester may still be there. Or he may have realised what he almost threw away and be so relieved to get a second chance. He still knocks about with all the same crowd he did before leaving, coming back regularly to see them, but this seemingly hasn’t had a negative impact on his career at West Ham. You have to remember he was just 18-years-old when he left the club. Are we prepared to write someone off forever because of the decisions they made when they were a teenager?
Essentially though, whether we want Morrison or not, it’s reassuring that the club didn’t let someone with his potential go without having a safety net. We’re in the position of power here and if we decide we do want him back, we can do it fairly easily, and if we don’t, then it’s West Ham’s issue to deal with.
With the window about to open, time will tell…