Steve Morison’s best years were at Millwall. He was a 20-goal striker in his first season with the club and the source of no fewer than 17 in his second.
Leeds United have given him fewer memories – and Morison likewise has created nothing like the same impression – but the past month would go down as his most effective at Elland Road. All he is missing is a goal to show for it.
Neil Redfearn wants his “strikers to be scoring”, or his only striker as Leeds’ current formation stands, but there is no debate to be had with him about Morison’s continuing selection. The forward is a cog in a machine which Redfearn feels more than satisfied with.
Morison has started the past six matches and barring any late problems, he will start again at home to Millwall tomorrow. Goals still elude him and on Tuesday, in a 2-0 win at Reading, he was denied by a post in the first half and a save from Adam Federici in the second. Redfearn was more interested in the fact that when the second chance went begging, Morison had the presence of mind to tee up an unmissable opportunity for Sam Byram.
Morison’s most recent Leeds goal came in March 2013. His last for any club was scored in April during a season-long loan at Millwall. Redfearn, nonetheless, is ready to stand by him, ahead of Billy Sharp and ahead of Mirco Antenucci. United’s form doesn’t justify a change.
“Obviously you want your strikers to score and he wants to score too,” Redfearn said. “But you’ve got to look at the bigger picture and if you’re playing well and winning, or playing well and getting results, you persevere.
“Other players have got to prove that they’re going to offer something better and Steve’s playing really well. He’s not that far off getting a goal and he looks like scoring but he fits the bill in our system – a target man who’s mobile and leads the line well.
“Yeah, he wants to score goals and we want him to score goals. But at the moment he’s playing in a team that’s successful.”
Redfearn has done with Morison what he did with Luke Murphy – looked to an unfancied, and in some respects unpopular, player to turn United’s season for the better. Morison has struggled to settle throughout his years at Leeds and experienced his share of run-ins with the club’s support. After returning from his loan at Millwall, he made it through a few of weeks of pre-season before being jeered from the pitch during a friendly at Chesterfield.
Redfearn said: “Steve’s been unlucky in front of goal but he’s finding his feet and he’s starting to look more and more like the Steve Morison I know and I remember from his early days. He’ll get his goals. He’ll start scoring.
“I saw in him a chance to get the best out of the players I’ve got. This is the hand I’ve been dealt here. Apart from the kids I’m responsible for bringing through, I’ve not signed any of these players but what do you as a coach is get the best out of the players you’re given.
“It’s the same with Luke Murphy. Luke wasn’t a popular player but now he is a popular player.
“You’ve got to give players the chance to prove people wrong.”