Underrated #7

James Morrison

Article by Thedamnedunited

You know I've got to start this one with the usual reference to musical genius the West Brom midfielder is so often associated with, but it’s standard now, isn't it? (I use the term ‘genius’ fairly loosely as well!) Anyway, I'm not here to write about that, I'm here to write about the footballer, James Morrison. You could argue he’s the one real bright spark in a West Brom midfield which has instigated the side’s meteoric rise up the table since the start of the season. But is he already a big fish in a small pond at The Hawthorns, or is he still yet to step out into the limelight?

Since his career started at the Middlesbrough Academy, graduating alongside England stars Stewart Downing, Adam Johnson, and current West Brom teammate Chris Brunt, he’s become known as a schemer in midfield, with an eye for a pass and the ability to match. In the last couple of seasons he has tended to be at the forefront of any decent bit of play Albion have shown, especially this season when he has really caught the eye. At ‘Boro, he made just 66 appearances and scoring 3 goals in 3 years while he was still only young. But in this time, he was also representing England at youth level, playing 17 games in total, which I suppose showed that he was never really destined to make it on the international stage.

But as his short England international career slowly disappeared, he was getting recognition from elsewhere. In August 2007, he signed for then Championship side West Brom, where his career would finally get going. In his d├ębut season for the Baggies, he made 43 appearances, scoring 6 times, 3 more goals than he had scored in his entire Middlesbrough career. With the strength that the ‘Boing Boing Baggies’ had from their previous season in the Premier League and the cash they had from parachute payments, it was no surprise that they were promoted back at the first time of asking.

Even then he was an influential part of the Albion midfield, being one of the main players who could pick up the ball, stop and have the vision and composure to see the ball that no one else would. His outstanding first season at West Brom didn't go unnoticed, and while his England career was seeming put to bed, a new opportunity arose; he was offered the chance to play for Scotland. By birth he’s not actually Scottish. He was born in Darlington in the north-east, hence why he grew up in the Middlesbrough Academy, but is eligible to represent Scotland through a Scottish grandparent, and opted to play for them, claiming that his "opportunities with England will be limited". He was probably right to do so to be fair, scoring 2 goals over 25 appearances so far.

Since West Brom last gained promotion to the Premier League Morrison has gone from strength to strength, really establishing himself as an unsung midfield maestro , perhaps with other star players including Peter Odemwingie have slightly over shadowed him of late. But with goals like the screamer he scored again Man U at The Hawthorns in January 2011 and the last gasp equaliser he scored at Spurs this season have brought him back to the attention of the doubters. You’d probably say he’s underrated at the moment and has been a fair bit in the past too, but if he keeps up the kind of form he’s showing now then there’s no reason why he won’t be plying his trade elsewhere in a season or twos time.