Ravel Morrison’s cameo a symbolic moment for him and the club
If you could choose one moment that best encapsulates the raw talent of Ravel Morrison, you’d go back a fortnight to a Manchester Senior Cup game against Bolton’s Reserves. 93 minutes had passed on what was nothing more than a dour encounter and, with the score at 0-0, Morrison had shifted responsibility upon himself to put things right. Collecting a pass from Marnick Vermijl, Morrison lit up the evening with a wonderful, curling effort with his left foot. The strike had only re-established the claim from some corners that such a naturally gifted player was ready for the big time and, less than two weeks later — yesterday’s game against Aldershot — he was to make his first appearance for the club this season.
He had to wait nearly 70 minutes for the honour, waiting patiently on the touchline and then as Mame Biram Diouf approached him — the man substituted in place of him — he allowed for an anxious stare into the Senegalese’s eyes, with the look of someone who had only just realised what this had meant for him. The inevitable nerves, however, were to be replaced with bubbling enthusiasm.
There was no angled 25 yard strike into the top corner but, then again, we didn’t need it; instead, it was encouraging to just see the simple things that make him the player he is. His touch didn’t let him down and he also showed great awareness of those around him. Actually, he is an intelligent individual (more than he is given credit for) on — and indeed off — the ball and that is something of an undervalued attribute of his and one that can allow him to maximise his potential. And his willingness to track back and help out in defence just goes to reinforce the point that he is an enthusiast (and also a team player). At one point, he even tried to talk the football-starved Dimitar Berbatov out of taking a free-kick, but to no avail.
However, Morrison’s cameo was something to behold not so much for the actual performance, as promising as he did look, but what his presence on the pitch means for the team; and to a further extent, the future of Manchester United. This was his first senior appearance for the club where he could actually make an impact — he did only play a minute against Wolves in this competition last year. It is all the more symbolic because many had doubted whether he’d able to do such a thing, that his behaviour and attitude is not one of a professional footballer and so he isn’t ready for the step up. He’s got the wrong mentality, essentially, and will only have a negative effect on the club and its reputation. For a person who has found himself in trouble on countless occasions, you can excuse such a sceptical thought.
Granted, it was only 20 minutes of Carling Cup action but he has effectively overcome his first virtual hurdle and, under the watchful eye of Sir Alex, might get many more opportunities in the near future — even if limited to a cameo appearance. It’s a milestone made all the more important because he’s someone who is often dismissed as a fragile tearaway.
When you consider it, it’s a small shame that Morrison has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons; because it has inadvertently put more pressure on him. Of course, that’s mostly his own doing and no rational person can defend his actions but for those who have seen him, it would be tragic to let all of that go to waste. Especially for a man who is often regarded as the most naturally gifted player the club have seen since Paul Scholes.
He’ll need to reassess, change his attitude and although it’s unlikely he’ll turn into a saint overnight, and will make a mistake here and there, it is vital that he knows the difference between right and wrong; such a basic, achievable thing will almost certainly turn out to be profitable for both him and Manchester United. Just imagine how good he’ll be in five years time. This substitute appearance, although brief and against lower opposition, is a chance for Morrison to start over. He’s entered a brave new world and there’s no doubting that, with all his talents, he will flourish in it.
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