On a weekend when Adnan Januzaj bursted onto the Premier League scene with the assurance of a veteran despite being only 18, another product of the Manchester United Academy showed he might be about to fulfil his potential.
Ravel Morrison might not have enjoyed the same number of column inches dedicate to Januzaj, nor was his goal – albeit sublime – as crucial to his team’s result as the Belgian’s brace was to United’s victory against Sunderland, but the 20-year-old has finally produced the sort of performance many expected him to produce in a red shirt.
Many thought that a club like United, where nurturing players through the academy ranks is as essential a component of the club’s history as the trophies the fill Old Trafford’s cabinets, would provide the perfect platform for Morrison to establish himself as one of English football’s brightest – and increasingly rare – talents.
Morrison, however, had other ideas.
Despite being compared to Paul Scholes, the boy from Whytenshawe conspired to throw it all away almost with the same regularity with which he bamboozled opponents on the pitch playing for United’s youth team.
For all his talent, Morrison simply did not have the attitude and the focus necessary to succeed at a club like United, while his penchant for getting himself in rather suspicious situation off the pitch – he was convicted for witness intimidation in February 2011 – didn’t help his case at all.
Less than a year after the club had stood by him during his judiciary problems, the player who had been described as even more talent than fellow teenager prodigies Paul Pogba and Adnan Januzaj left Manchester for good, moving to West Ham for £650,000.
“He needs to get away from Manchester and start a new life,” claimed Sir Alex Ferguson as the teenager left Old Trafford behind for the capital, a move that many considered to be tragically ill-advised, considering the temptations London can offer to a youngster with too much money at his disposal.
Morrison, however, has proved a lot of people wrong and after enduring a unimpressive start to his career at Upton Park – with a loan spell at Birmingham just as remarkably unspectacular – the 20-year-old has finally started to reap the fruits of his unquestionable talent.
Sam Allardyce might not be many people’s first choice when it comes to nurture flair players, but under the former Blackburn and Bolton manager’s tutelage Morrison has thrived so far this season, scoring four goals in eight games in all competitions.
Morrison’s goal against Spurs yesterday – his second in the last three league games, after he had opened his Premier League account against Everton two weeks ago – was a timely reminder of his talent.
Having picked up the ball in his own half, the former United man dribbled his way past three defenders before chipping the on-rushing Hugo Lloris to cap a wonderful individual performance.
“He’s 20, but he’s quite old in terms of years but he’s learnt so much in a short period of time,” purred Allardyce on Sunday.. “That’s the beauty. The penny has dropped, in his lifestyle, his attitude and his timekeeping. He doesn’t want to do anything other than try and break into our first team. The loan spell at Birmingham City gave him time to reflect on what it takes; he has learnt from that experience and listened to what we’ve told him.
“Sir Alex Ferguson told me I hope you can sort him out because you will have a top class player on the your hands, I’m not sure I’ve done that but he’s enjoying his football. He can do something no one else can do and we saw that today.”
The history books are full of players who have conspired to throw their talent away after seemingly getting their career back on track, but hopefully Ravel Morrison has learnt his lesson.
If he has, the future could bring him back to the heights many expected him to hit until two seasons ago.