Ravel Morrison is a changed man according to Sam Allardyce and looks set to be handed his first Premier League start.
The ex-United youth product was widely considered to be the standout prospect amongst the multi-talented squad which won the FA Youth Cup in 2011 but struggled with high profile off-field misdemeanours.
Witness intimidation and criminal damage charges very nearly put Morrison behind bars before United finally gave up on him after numerous attempts to turn the boys life and attitude around.
After a season-long loan at Birmingham last term, Morrison marked his full Hammers debut with a goal against Cheltenham in the Capital One Cup.
Big Sam said: “The lad has grown up, that’s the key element. He even went as far as to sacrifice some of his own salary to play for Birmingham. That spoke volumes. I don’t think I have seen that for 15 or 20 years. We’re all delighted to see his performance against Cheltenham and in particular his goal.
“We have lots of good staff here, especially on the sports psychology side,” added Allardyce. “Lee Richardson, who is a fully-qualified sports psychologist, could help him in that line – managing the euphoria if it comes his way.”
It could be difficult during the coming seasons to watch Morrison without thinking about ‘what could have been’ if he makes the kind of impact many people predicted he would have at the very highest level.
Couple that with the loss of Paul Pogba from the same Academy crop and United fans definitely missed out on the chance to enjoy watching two great youngsters strut their stuff at Old Trafford but it wasn’t to be….despite the clubs best efforts.
In January we took a look back at Morrison’s time with United and wished Allardyce luck with his purchase. It appears that time, and probably more importantly, a change of scenary from his Stretford stomping ground has allowed the boy turn take the first steps into manhood and maturity. If Morrison has conquered a few demons in the East End of London then West Ham have themselves a diamond they’ll struggle to keep hold of.