It has been a fair number of days since Danny Murphy moved from Craven Cottage on the banks of the Thames to the North West for Blackburn Rovers, so I apologise for only getting this piece up now. For the Fulham fans who read this, you will read about what I feel Danny Murphy did for our club and if you are a Blackburn fan, well you should hopefully get some insight into what you can expect to see over the next season or so. If any of you listened to the most recent Cottage Talk you will have already heard a little bit of what will be in this piece.
It is hard to write something that will give a man like Danny Murphy the credit he deserves. For me, he has been the most influential player at the club for a long time, being the long standing captain on the pitch as well as being the leading man off the pitch as club captain. Not only does he have tremendous quality as a footballer, but his leadership qualities are second to none. I will get to his leadership qualities a little bit later in this piece but for now I want to write about the he did on the pitch, what qualities do Fulham now have to replace?
Vision: Firstly, let’s talk about the exceptional vision the guy has. Sometimes his passing is just exquisite. He can completely unlock the defence with a ball that not many people would have spotted. How many times have we had a free kick and he has seen the run of perhaps Andy Johnson or Clint Dempsey and just a beautiful pass on the ground literally straight through the defence? It is something that we could miss at Fulham.
Passing: It’s all well and good having good vision, but if you can’t play the pass then that is a pretty useless quality. Murphy often has the highest rate of successful passes on the pitch throughout the matches he is involved with. His choice of pass is nearly always right and he doesn’t often misplace passes. However, there were some games this year were he gave the ball away a little more than usual but everyone can have an off game! I have noticed that any time he does give the ball away, the commentators often mention how that doesn’t happen very often! We are fortunate at Fulham to have a group of players who like to pass the ball around but it was often Murphy who finds the killer ball. This could be something that we miss next season if we don’t find a suitable replacement.
Penalties: With all the hype about English players and their penalties I thought that I had to add this one in. Danny Murphy can fairly hit a penalty. He does it with such ease, confidence and pure skill. He isn’t the sort of player to blast his penalties, nor is he one to take a stupid, funny run up (Portugal penalty takers take note!). Rather he places his penalties and often he puts the ball where the keeper is never going to get to. Who takes the penalties now? Dempsey? Dembele? Who knows?
It would be very fair to say that Murphy has been with the club through the ups and the downs. From our nail-biting, just-about-staying-up season to the dizzying heights of seventh in the top flight and then an amazing European run that ended in a very tense final. He has seen a number of managers at the club and has played under different systems but he has nearly always kept his place. His outstanding dedication and experience saw him gain the captain’s armband under Hodgson reign and he has kept it ever since whenever he played. The debate over who will succeed him as captain will be very healthy over the next few months.
It was so fitting whenever he scored that goal at Portsmouth to keep us in the league. He is a fantastic leader and has, I believe, played an important role in the development of younger players such as Kerim Frei and Alex Kacaniklic. As a hockey player, I used to always relish the chance to play along side and learn from the top players, and our younger guys at Fulham have been able to do that from Danny Murphy. The mixture of youth and experience in our side over the past year has been excited to watch and a great benefit to our club and Danny Murphy has been very important for this.
I would have loved Murphy to finish his career at Fulham but he feels that he has another few years and perhaps the step down to Championship level will suit him. After all, he was starting to struggle to finish games this season due to his age. Blackburn will be hoping that he can help them get straight back up to the PL and I reckon that with his experience he will play a very important role there. I wish him all the best and I really hope that we draw Blackburn in one of the cups this year at home so that the fans can proper say bye-bye to the man who has given us so much over the past five years. I hope he returns at some stage in some sort of coaching role, but for now, we must wish him well at his new club and never forget the impact that he made at Fulham Football Club.