The rise of Ravel: can we benefit?

West Ham enjoyed an incredible first victory at White Hart Lane since 1999 this weekend, but their start to this seasonís Premier League campaign has been frustrating to say the least.

With only two wins, two draws and three defeats we are positioned in 13th, a start that even the keenest of bubble blowers have questioned. However, the sudden rise of 20-year-old Ravel Morrison has certainly been a breath of fresh air at the Boleyn Ground and has finally given us fans a reason for optimism.

Morrison, a former Manchester United academy product has shown a new found maturity this term as his performances on and off the field have rewarded him with a starting place and firm backing from boss Sam Allardyce. Not only has he impressed West Hams coaching staff, but his recent call up to the England Under 21 squad shows just how rewarding his hard work has been.

The talented midfielder has shone with his close control, mature decision making and attacking decisiveness as his ball playing and scoring ability have given the team a new dimension. His most notable performance came in yesterday's 3-0 win at London rivals Tottenham, as his classy individual goal - West Ham's third on the day - contributed to what was the team's best result of the season.

His start to football was no easy one however. During his time at Manchester United he made plenty of paper appearances for his off-field antics; a troubling reputation soon followed him as his career seemed to take a turn for the worse.

Despite Alex Ferguson's compliments in calling Morrison the next Paul Scholes, the pair's relationship had broken down. Interest from some of Europe's elite had cooled and so Allardyce picked up the 'bad boy' for an initial steal of circa ?1.5million, a sum that could still rise to ?2.5million depending on performances.

The Wythenshawe-born player was quickly loaned out to Championship outfit Birmingham City where he played an impressive 27 games under manager Lee Clarke. Clarke seemed to realise Morrison's potential and gave the teen great backing as his performances and enthusiasm for football began to show.

Returning to West Ham for pre-season this summer, his new found maturity and positive attitude was recognized immediately within the club and players and staff had nothing but praise for the player. Scoring his first goal for the club in our 6-2 pre-season victory over Cork City, Morrison has now notched up a tally of six goals in all competitions - proving all previous doubters wrong.

So, how do we use such a promising talent at the heart of our midfield? One thing's for sure; the likes of skipper Kevin Nolan, Mark Noble and Joe Cole won't let the former Red slip away again.

Morrison seems to thrive on confidence, and though his chance may have come through injuries to the likes of Cole and Downing the faith shown in him is a major confidence boost. We always hear about how a 'happy camp' is the be all and end all, but maybe this is the case? A happy group are willing to work for each other, ok to rotate when need be - and a team without overwhelming individual desires are less likely to crash and burn.

In that case, why are West Ham not improving on last year's finish? Well, for all our doubt and criticism so far, things are far from all gloom and doom. Firstly, just six games in and Manchester United currently sit ninth. Do you think that's where they'll be come May? Some would argue we are reliant on the return of Andy Carroll, and whilst the club record ?15million signing would help improve the team massively, I refuse to believe our squad is reliant upon the big man.

Sam Allardyce spoke to the media before the trip to Tottenham: "I don't think our season hinges on Andy getting back in the team. It'll obviously be a big help because he's a big, big player in many ways. Our failing has been that we have not lacked creating and making chances, but we have lacked the ability to score them."

It's hard to to disagree with that assessment; a mixture of poor finishing, a failing to make most of a dominant spell in possession and a number of questionable refereeing decisions has left us in a situation we all hoped we wouldn't be in. Additionally, the absence of other first team players such as both Downing and Cole has left the squad lacking in a bit of creativity and attacking ruthlessness.

So with a few weaknesses and areas of concern identified, I return to the question that is can West Ham benefit from Ravel Morrison's emergence as a big first team player?

When looking at it, why not? The confidence in his performances is there for all to see, and his attractive playing style clearly complements the grafters in the midfield three. Allardyce finds areas of weakness in the oppositions style of play. So, he is more than likely going to use the strength in our midfield and the form of Morrison to affect and open up the frailties put in front of them - as we saw worked brilliantly at Spurs.

By no means am I suggesting a young player now has to carry a team, but with no unnecessary pressure placed on his shoulders, the efficiency of our team should give him confidence to express himself. It worked at White Hart Lane didn't it? With a number of first team players soon to return to the team, and with us perched only three places below last year's 10th position - I wouldn't panic when looking at the table just yet!

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