Being a product of Dario Gradi’s famous soccer academy at Crewe Alexandra, Danny Murphy knows all about the importance to a club of homegrown talent.
During his 24 years as manager at Gresty Road, Gradi produced an astonishing 75 players who went on to play for Crewe’s first team.
Dean Ashton, Robbie Savage, Seth Johnson, David Platt, Rob Hulse and Rob Jones are just some of the stars who went on to perform at the highest level and keep Crewe afloat.
When Roy Evans took him to Anfield in 1997, Murphy was again surrounded by local talent. Jones had moved with him and they were joined in the first team by Robbie Fowler, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.
It was the midfielder’s most successful period as a player and Murphy was rewarded with nine England caps.
Short spells at Spurs and Charlton followed before he moved to Fulham.
Murphy’s career stalled under Lawrie Sanchez but has been given a kiss of life by an English manager Roy Hodgson – and central midfield pairing with Englishman Jimmy Bullard.
Tomorrow’s visitors Tottenham have been transformed under Harry Redknapp – another Englishman – who has picked English players.
It’s a no brainer for Chester-born Murphy. The 31-year-old shares the same sentiments as Trevor Brooking who has today put his job on the line as the Football Association’s director of football development by questioning his employer’s commitment to developing English talent.
“It is important to have a strong English nucleus at any club, or at least a nucleus of players who know what the club means,” said the Fulham captain.
“Look at Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United. They all have it.
“When I was at Spurs, I was conscious that they were always trying to look for young English talent, as opposed to looking for players from abroad on free transfers or Bosman deals. The way they are playing, there is no reason why they can’t finish in the top six.”
Murphy believes that by handing key roles to Tom Huddlestone, Darren Bent and David Bentley, Redknapp has got his selection spot on.
Those three players did not enjoy the trust of former boss Juande Ramos, but have thrived under Redknapp, with Bent scoring seven goals in six games.
Murphy added: “Harry has been sensible in putting players in the team who understand the Premier League, and who are desperate to do well.
“Tottenham are a really good example of the value of bringing in a manager who is experienced in the Premier League, and knows how to get the best out of his players.
“Ramos is a manager who had won more trophies [than Redknapp], but he had never managed in this country, and, despite winning the Carling Cup, he failed in this League.”
Daniel Levy’s decision to dispense with Damien Comolli is another reason why Spurs will soon start moving away from the foot of what is a very congested table, according to Murphy.
As Hodgson does at Fulham, Redknapp now has complete control of transfer policy at Spurs.
Murphy believes the director of football system is flawed, and was one of the reasons why he chose to move to Charlton when Spurs first tried to sign him when he left Liverpool in 2004.
He revealed: “At the time, Frank Arnesen was technical director at Spurs, and I didn’t know whether it was he or then-manager Jacques Santini who wanted to sign me. There would have been uncertainty about my future had I signed at that time. I am a big believer in the traditional system that they have gone back to now. Harry is in charge, and nobody is going to tell him what he can or can’t do.”
Despite an inconsistent start to the campaign, Murphy remains confident that Fulham are also on the up under Hodgson. So tight is the Premier League that last weekend’s win over Newcastle saw Fulham not only climb out of the relegation zone, but move into the top half of the table.
Although Spurs are six places below Hodgson’s team, they have only two fewer points. While he describes last season’s remarkable escape from relegation as “special” – Murphy scored the only goal in the final game of the campaign at Portsmouth to keep Fulham up – he acknowledges the club cannot allow such close shaves to become a regular occurrence.
Murphy said: “We don’t want to be fighting the drop every season.
“Now I am a senior player, I also feel that I am one of those who should be more reliable and consistent. You can’t have too many in your team who might give an eight of 10 performance one week, and a five out of 10 one the next.
“We have greater depth and more ability, but then so does everyone else. You don’t see weak squads any more, and every team have players who can hurt you.”