Why West Ham’s Ravel Morrison is a gamble worth taking for QPR

Ravel Morrison

Ravel Morrison - Credit: EMPICS Sport

By Harry Redknapp’s own admission, the signing of Ravel Morrison from West Ham United this week will represent a gamble. But in a season where QPR’s performances have been relentlessly sterile, a dose of unpredictability may be exactly what is required.

So concerned is he that QPR will miss out on automatic promotion to the Premier League – defeat at home to Reading on Saturday left them four points behind second-placed Burnley – that Redknapp deliberately delayed Morrison’s emergency loan this week.

Morrison will complete his 93-day move on Friday, meaning he would be able to play in the Championship play-off final on May 24. That says much about Redknapp’s anxiety. QPR have stumbled at precisely the wrong moment. It is not so much that they are playing any worse than before Christmas, rather that they are now being punished more regularly. Reading were the latest to profit, after Derby County and Burnley.

Question-marks hang over the defence, but equally Rangers have so little creativity in midfield that it is too easy for opposing teams to cut off the service to the strikers. With Charlie Austin injured - always QPR’s nightmare scenario – there is no Plan B.

Redknapp revealed last week that he considered recalling Adel Taarabt from his loan spell at Fulham, a telling U-turn from the manager who said in December he “wasn’t desperate” for a reunion with the Moroccan whom he once called a “fruitcake”. But Taarabt’s desire to join AC Milan derailed that move.

Step forward Morrison, a player as precociously talented as Taarabt, capable of unpicking a defence in a manner which no QPR player has been able to display.

The former Manchester United trainee shot into the limelight for West Ham before Christmas, producing a series of scintillating displays which drew suggestions that he could earn a spot in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad.

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Things have gone seriously awry since then, however, with Morrison failing to hold down a place in Sam Allardyce’s squad.

He has a chequered past. As a youngster, he was given a caution for common assault, and at 18 he admitted two counts of witness intimidation. He joined West Ham having finally driven Sir Alex Ferguson to distraction.

Yet to label Morrison a “wild child” may well be to do him something of a disservice. The Guardian reported this week that much of the reason for Morrison’s fall from grace at West Ham centres around a dispute with Allardyce over his choice of agent, a disagreement which caused Morrison to become disillusioned with life at Upton Park.

Other than that, Morrison appears to have mastered his demons, and seems far less of a problem than many suggest. That can only benefit QPR – and Hammers midfielder Joe Cole has already praised Morrison’s desire to learn and develop his game.

Redknapp will be intent on helping Morrison rediscover the form he showed earlier in the season, and the manager is well qualified for the task.

He has worked with such characters before of course – Paolo Di Canio became a cult hero under his management at West Ham United, and he has already nurtured Joey Barton’s rebirth this season. He will now be confident he can repeat the trick again.

The success of Andros Townsend – not a dissimilar style of player to Morrison – during his loan spell at QPR last season will only add weight to Redknapp’s conviction that he can get the best from the England Under-21 international.

To do so may well necessitate yet another reshuffle of his side, and will almost certainly mean a departure from the 4-4-2 system employed against Reading.

A return to 4-2-3-1, with Morrison playing in the No10 role off a central striker, would appear the likeliest eventuality.

Signing the man Redknapp called a “maverick” is a gamble, but with QPR rapidly falling off the pace it is one which may be worth taking if Rangers are to find a different dimension.