Sheffield United: Blades new boy Ravel Morrison is "without doubt Premier League standard" says former coach as he dismisses concerns about former Manchester United kid's attitude
Ravel Morrison, the former Manchester United wonderkid now at Sheffield United, “can be as good as he wants to be” once he regains full fitness and is “without doubt, Premier League standard”.
That’s the view of Shaun Constable, the English coach who worked with Morrison during his spell with Östersunds FK in the Swedish Allsvenskan.
Morrison, who came through the ranks at Old Trafford before spells at West Ham United and Lazio, penned an initial one-year deal with Chris Wilder’s Blades on Tuesday.
He joined United on trial after his contract at Östersunds expired.
“Ravel is an undoubted talent and we are delighted that we have put together a deal that suits all parties,” said Wilder.
“I’ve spoken to a number of people about him and it is clear that he has serious ability. We are getting a fantastic footballer with a tremendous pedigree and this is a great opportunity for Rav, we believe we can help him get back to the level he wants to be.”
And Constable, speaking to The Star from his native Norway, described Morrison’s ability as “ridiculous”.
“Ravel can be as good as he wants to be, and I really mean that,” Constable said. “If you get him fit and he stays away from injury, which can be a problem with any player, he can, without a shadow of a doubt, play in the Premier League.
“He’s special, no doubt about that. When he was with us, we spent some time with a psychologist and he put it simply – he said that when people like Ravel, who are so young, are talked about so highly all the time, it puts so much pressure on them and can affect them in a negative way.
“So the stories about him not turning up to training or whatever are not about him being an idiot, but it’s perhaps his way of trying to avoid the pressure.
“When there’s that pressure on the shoulders of young players, they can crumble. But to be fair, Ravel hasn’t. He’s grown up a lot more than a lot of people recognise.
“Fair enough, he may have fallen in with the wrong crowd when he was younger, which have caused him a lot of unfortunate headlines. But the person behind the headlines is completely different.”
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Morrison was talked about as one of Old Trafford's brightest prospects when he progressed through the system, but distractions off-the-field led to Sir Alex Ferguson, who once described the 26-year-old as ‘the best kid you’ll ever see’, selling him to West Ham United in 2012.
Loan spells at Birmingham City, QPR and Cardiff followed, before a permanent move to Lazio, which came to an end earlier this year. He went back on loan to QPR from Lazio, before a spell in Mexico with Atlas.
“He did well there; he was fit and looked sharp,” Constable added. “If you asked him, he’d say it's the most he enjoyed football for a long time. He went back to Lazio after that expecting to play, but didn’t, and was stuck in the wilderness there.
“David Webb, our technical director, knew Ravel’s agent and when we first heard the talk about it, even we didn’t believe it. But it was about playing football, for him. It’s an interesting place – in the middle of nowhere, in the north of Sweden – and there’s not much to do, but focus on work. I think he enjoyed that.
“Interestingly, he’s quite a quiet guy. We met him in Marbella, where we were training because the weather in Sweden is ridiculous in the winter, and the first thing that struck me was how humble he is. I try not to get too stressed about headlines but I couldn’t help it with someone like Ravel, but he was a pleasure to work with. And worked really hard, too.
“He came into our level and ripped it to pieces with some of the stuff he could do, and I’d imagine he’ll do the same with United. Because he’s that good.”
In 2011, Morrison admitted two counts of intimidating a witness and was hit with a 12-month referral order and ordered to pay costs and compensation. Four years later, allegations of assault - made by his ex-girlfriend – were dropped.
Now, the forward has a second chance of Premier League football with Wilder’s Blades.
“I think Chris would be a great fit for Ravel,” Constable said. “I’ve heard a lot about him, the job he’s done and the way he plays football.
“Every player needs an arm around their shoulder sometimes – not just Ravel – but sometimes, he does need a bit of love. But you can test him as well, and he doesn't have fits and start kicking off. He’s okay if you’re on him about something in training, because it means you’re paying attention to him and giving him feedback.
“I spoke to him recently after he went to United and he’s in a good frame of mind, he said he was enjoying himself. He’s been waiting for this chance for some time. He picked up an injury just when he was starting to influence games for us, and he’s so hard to get the ball off. He’s a bit like Gazza in that respect.
“I can still see the street footballer in him sometimes, the way Ravel uses his body to move people around. His technical ability is a different world. Some of the goals he scored in training were ridiculous, and his range of passing… my God.
“It’s quite scary, really, how good he can be.”