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Ten World Cup players you need to know

Scouting Report Jun 8, 2014
Read
Mar 18, 2014

How to solve a problem like Ravel Morrison?

Name: Ravel Morrison Age: 21 Club: Queens Park Rangers (on loan from West Ham) Position: Attacking midfield Nationality: English It is fair to say the brief footballing career of Manchester United academy product Ravel Morrison has thus far been eventful. From the Red Devils to West Ham, with loan spells at Birmingham City and now QPR, his off-pitch issues and incredible talent have been extensively covered in the British media from an early age. While the 21-year-old would appear to have made considerable strides to improve matters away from football and has impressed for both West Ham and QPR this season, he currently finds himself on loan in the second tier of English football. Quite why he is playing in the Championship, though, remains a mystery to many. In the early months of this season, Morrison excelled in West Ham colours -- albeit for a team that was, at times, in real danger of relegation. A run of wins in January, plus a handful of new signings, is given as the official reason that the youngster was no longer earning first-team football at the club. His omission, though, began well in advance of that run. Per the Daily Mail's Craig Hope, a reported row with Sam Allardyce over agent representation has been denied by the Hammers manager, who insists that Morrison still has a West Ham future. It is difficult to believe, though, that his fall from grace to the extent of being loaned out is based on performances. Throughout the side's pre-Christmas difficulties, the England Under-21 star was consistently a bright spot in what was becoming a gloomy affair at Upton Park. The reasoning, then, remains unclear. Whatever the cause may be, it is clear that QPR are the fortunate beneficiaries of the situation. Morrison hit his second brace in the space of three games last weekend to help Rangers to a win that considerably eases the growing pressure on manager Harry Redknapp. From a position of comfort in the automatic promotion places, the side have repeatedly slipped up since the turn of the year and now look set to rely upon playoff success if they are to return to the Premier League. For all the boardroom success of commercial deals with Nike and inspiring stadium designs, the club's woeful recent financial report is a clear indication of how badly a top-flight return is needed.

Ravel Morrison way way too good for the Championship, as entirely expected.

— Nick (@ManUnitedYouth) March 15, 2014
For Redknapp, the opportunity to bring in Morrison was an unexpected bonus. Described as "the best footballer since Paul Gascoigne" by former manager Lee Clark this month, he has already helped to arrest Rangers' slide somewhat. The big-spending West Londoners had relied heavily on sidelined Charlie Austin for goals this season and, in his absence, had failed to find enough goals from other sources. Morrison, with his ability to beat a man with nonchalant ease and to score goals entirely against the run of play, is proving an ideal creative spark for a side that, for all its big-name players, was lacking anything in the way of inspiration. Teammate Nedum Onuoha this week tipped the young star to become a big player for England in the future, but much will still depend on Morrison himself. When bringing in his latest asset to Loftus Road, Redknapp was very clear with the press that he saw the loan move as a risk -- but one perhaps worth taking. His Rangers debut was then followed by reports of a poor response to being substituted following a forgettable display. Days later, he stormed down the tunnel after being substituted for England Under-21s. Morrison attracts such bad press due to his reputation and, while he has come a long way, he also has a lot of ground still to cover. Indeed, it is not that long since he was involved in an on-field bust up with England Under-21 teammate Wilfried Zaha in October, or since he became involved in an altercation with Crystal Palace's Joel Ward in December. Morrison's tenacity is an important part of his playing style, but his attitude and temper remain issues that need to be addressed if he is to achieve what Onuoha, among many others, believe he is capable of. Throughout his brushes with the law during his time at Old Trafford, manager Sir Alex Ferguson tried hard to address the issues and ensure that the club retained one of the most natural talents to have come through their academy in many a year. Unfortunately for the Scot, he saw his trust betrayed on one too many occasions and Morrison was allowed to move on. It can never be said that he has not been given chances to shine. At Rangers, we are once more seeing what Morrison is capable of even if it may be below the top flight. He is an excellent dribbler of the ball, with incredible calm in tight areas. His passing and finishing, also, can be simply exquisite when he is at his very best. The poise shown for his opening goal against Yeovil last weekend, for example, is a great demonstration of just what Morrison can offer. There have been steady improvements in all areas since his August 2012 loan move to Birmingham, but there have also been repeated setbacks along the way. Were selection decisions based solely upon talent, he would be a regular starter for the majority of Premier League sides at the present time. A World Cup place, too, would not be out of the question.

RAVEL MORRISON'S UNSTOPPABLE GOAL: Watch @morrisonravel's first goal at Loftus Road and what a goal it was! http://t.co/i2GS3rXIaL

— QPR FC (@OfficialQPR) March 16, 2014
Morrison, though, will inevitably join the rest of us in watching football's showpiece event from his sofa this summer. Even a stunning end to the campaign for QPR would not be enough to push his claims for a spot at this point, but would go a long way to building his reputation as a professional. At 21, he will soon no longer be so easily forgiven for the shows of petulance and aggression still visible over the past 12 months. Morrison has the talent to play for any of England's top sides, but such clubs demand discipline in some of football's highest pressure environments. It would be a real shame were he to never reach that level. Much praise is due for seemingly having turned his life around, with his career at least now heading in the right direction. More, though, is required if he is to take bigger strides in the coming years toward the very top of European football. Once more, it is entirely up to the player himself to justify repeated faith in his ability and guiding QPR back to the top flight would be a good starting point for such a journey. For further discussion on any of the players featured in The Scout's Notebook, Christopher can be found on Twitter @chris_elastico. More of his work profiling rising talents can be found at TheElastico.com.