West Ham’s Ravel makes a glove-ley return to first team action
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Hammers young midfielder showed he is maturing fast as he returns to the West Ham line-up after 17 month hiatus
Ravel Morrison returned to first-team action for the Hammers on Saturday at St James’ Park, some 17 months after his debut in claret and blue up as a late substitute up at Leeds United in the Championship.
Saturday saw another substitute appearance, so you could say that nothing much has changed for the former Manchester United Academy boy, but the difference in the player that turned out at Elland Road to the player we saw at the weekend was an absolute chasm.
The midfielder has always had potential, Sir Alex Ferguson saw that at Old Trafford, but he was too difficult to handle, even for the former United boss and in the end he ran out of patience with him.
West Ham boss Sam Allardyce took a gamble by paying £650,000 for him and it looked like a poor investment after stories of off the field problems came to light and that debut at Leeds United looked to be his only game in claret and blue.
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But a year at Birmingham City under Lee Clark seems to have transformed the troubled teenager into a more mature and potentially very talented 20-year-old and he made a big impression in the 15 minutes he was on the field.
The first impression he made was that he had Ravel rather than Morrison on the back of his shirt and the second was that he was wearing gloves – in August – and though it was pouring with rain, it was also a warm day in the north east!
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On the pitch itself he showed why Allardyce has preferred him on the bench to the unlucky Jack Collison and Matt Taylor.
He set up Joe Cole for a chance that curled inches wide of the mark and then in the closing moments, it was he shot that was deflected into the path of Modibo Maiga for a goal that was ruled out for offside.
He is not the finished product by any means and the club are still too wary to put him up in front of the press for interview, but Allardyce is delighted with what he is seeing from a maturer Morrison.
“He’s an emerging talent and we’re very pleased with what he did in pre-season for us,” said the manager.
“He came on at Newcastle and is an exceptional talent who we hope we can nurture into the fray. Some people might say sticking a player on at that late stage might be risky, but we’ve got to do it at some stage.
“We can see the talent and the only way to do it is to get him in the first team and let him get some minutes on the board. He’s had a good season at Birmingham and he’s brought that back with him in pre-season and it’s great to see that talent is emerging.”
It is a huge boost to the Hammers and if he can continue to play like that, then he can where a snood and a balaclava if he wants. Perhaps not.