steve morison, deadwood, and the legend of laurentBack
The distinguishing feature of deadwood in a football squad is normally that it’s hard to shift; I’m fairly sure that Paul Rachubka, for example, is technically still contracted to Leeds United until 30th June. In that respect, we can perhaps be grateful to the wave that rushed in and took Steve Morison out to sea after just one day of pre-season training.
It was one of those rumours that got laughed off when it first appeared – surely United wouldn’t really be up for loaning Morison out already? For the whole season? He’s not even had half a season at Elland Road, and when players arrive in a blaze of publicity and get given the number nine shirt, they normally get a bit more of a shot than this. But the move to Millwall has been confirmed this afternoon, the story going round that the barrier to paying Noel Hunt’s wages has been Morison’s wages, and that McDermott would rather have Hunt. And McDermott’s the manager, so, see you, Steve.
That blaze of publicity I referred to as accompanying Morison’s arrival was mostly to do with the player that went the other way: the swap with Luciano Becchio was the biggest transfer move Leeds made in the January window, and if it seemed aggravatingly wrong-headed at the time, now it is simply infuriating. Becchio’s 16 goals were about the only highlight of the first half of 2012/13, but for whatever reason his face didn’t fit with Neil Warnock and so he was ushered towards the exit – or ‘Norwich’ as it’s known at Thorp Arch.
Warnock argued forcefully and famously that it was the right move: “He’ll be a legend here in a few years,” he said, “The fans will love him to bits and say ‘bloody hell, that was one of Warnock’s signings.’” Never mind a few years, it’s only been a few months and already the legend has passed into, well, legend; but I don’t think a Pierre Laurent style myth – what did he ever come here for, anyway? – was really what Warnock had in mind.
The net result, then, as we gaze out over the wreckage Warnock left behind, is that our tenth highest scorer of all time, and a beautiful human being, now plays for Norwich; his replacement now plays for Millwall; Habib Habibou is still free to chuck ducks around without a care; Michael Brown is still here; and the fans are left banging their heads against a wall.
On the plus side, when McDermott spoke this week about outgoings before incomings, we all feared he meant Little Sam Byram would be heading off; at least this way it’s a player about whom I feel no shame when raising my hand to say, ‘I never liked him from the start.’ The fewer players Leeds field next season towards whom I harbour an active (if irrational) grudge, the better. The door’s over there, Steve; hold it for Noel, will you? Now let’s all get back to spelling Morrison with two Rs, like it should be.