Danny ‘Big Fish’ Murphy

Posted by Paul Moon in Football | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poor technique is the major reason why very few British footballers and midfielders in particular are successfully able to play for a team on the continent.  Danny Murphy is a rare product of the English game in that he could have played there and flourished.  Unlike most of his domestic colleagues he has a decent first touch, has a range of passing and understands the importance of ball retention.

 Statistics composed by Opta revealed an astonishing fact.

Danny Murphy is an English former footballer who played as a central midfielder. Having begun his career at Crewe Alexandra in 1993, he moved to Liverpool in 1997, where he won a treble of the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001. Statistics composed by Opta but posted on Sky revealed an astonishing fact – Murphy had completed the most passes in the Premier League (2329).  What is both remarkable and surprising is that he accomplished the feat with a football club like Fulham! One imagined a player in a top tier club would have completed those numbers and with a team associated with possession. Those statistics look even better when you discover he came fifth in making the most tackles behind Lucas (Liverpool), Vaughan (Blackpool), Alcaraz (Wigan) and Parker (West Ham).

Murphy works at the coal face of the game - Mark Hughes

Looking at the reaction on the forums the suggestion is that a lot of the passes were irrelevant or sideways. There is no such thing, keeping the ball is an art-form and something at odds with the British public psyche. You cannot fluke those Opta statistics and I prefer Mark Hughes's evaluation of the player when he acknowledges 'Murphy works at the coal face of the game.'

No doubting his value but...

His career has generally been described as solid but that particular word falls short of describing his value.  There are negatives attached to his career.  Clearly as a player he has not been ambitious and consequently under-achieved.  He has resigned himself to being a big fish in a small pond and has quipped on a couple of occasions that he has ‘no intention of sitting on a bench and taking the money’ and this philosophy has shaped his career.  It could be something he regrets later in life.

When he left Liverpool at 27-years old and approaching his peak he downgraded and played for three average sides in Chartlon, Tottenham (average in 2006/07) and Fulham. His detractors talk about a lack of pace and is a fair comment but like all class players his sound positional play easily compensates.He played nine times for England scoring once and was due to play in the 2002 World Cup but fell victim to the dreaded metatarsal injury and that obviously hindered his career at a crucial stage.  Had he the opportunity to showcase his talents to the world that year it is doubtful his path would have led to Craven Cottage!

Most remembered for a unique cup treble!

He will be most remembered for his career at Liverpool that included a most unique cup treble in 2001 – League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup.  He developed an uncanny knack of scoring the deciding goal in tight matches.  At Old Trafford he scored the only goal in three wins over Manchester United in four consecutive seasons and one can only imagine what was said in those forums in Lancashire.

Surprisingly, Anfield faithful did not mourn him

Surprisingly and considering the football knowledge of the Anfield faithful, most did not mourn his leaving Anfield and this was at odds with his major contribution.  He never played regularly in his best position and this was proven when he rose another level after his departure.  Fulham have enjoyed their most successful period in their history with Murphy as captain, something that has largely passed unnoticed.  Once he leaves the club his true value will be recognised.

Looked like management material

At 34-years old he is coming to the end of his playing career and has made no secret of his desire to go into coaching where he has all the credential to do well.  He is intelligent, clearly understands the game and has man-management skills. Dario Gradi of Crewe rated his football intelligence so highly as a youngster that he sent him on scouting missions.  He is still regarded as a legend at that club and would be welcome with open arms should he wish to be manager.

Judging by his keen interest in football management this looks to be Murphy's last year and he would hope that Fulham replicate their eighth place from last year but after looking at the candidates in Betfair's Top 10 Market 2011/12 that seems unlikely...


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