This is a guest post by Jack Turner
All the media nonense about Jimmy Bullard seemed to mask the real start of the show yesterday. He’s quiet, intelligent and understated and with the make-up of our midfield, he plays in a similar fashion. Whether that’s by design or just a legacy of the fact that all those lungbursting runs have taken their toll on his ever willing legs is unknown, but there can be no doubting the importance of Danny Murphy to this Fulham team.
He quite often does the simple things that aren’t all that special but vitally important. He retains a remarkable range of passion and that all-important vision, witness that perfect pass with which he picked out Clint Dempsey for the third goal yesterday afternoon. Despite the accusations of our midfield being too lightweight, Murphy is far from averse to throwing himself into tackles. He’s not an Owen Hargreaves or even a natural holding midfielder but he knows his role and quite frequent breaks up the opposition’s attacks. The beauty of having someone like Murphy in that role is that he can distribute the ball so effectively once he wins in back.
What was particularly impressive about Murphy’s performance, apart from his assured penalty, for me yesterday was the way that he abandoned his usual restraint to make the sort of late runs into the penalty area that he did to such devastating effect in his years at Liverpool. He frequently got into the box having bossed the game from midfield and started the move that led to that wonderfully constructed third goal.
I’ll freely admit to wondering whether we’d bought a player in decline when Murphy arrived from Spurs, especially as he’d failed to set the world alight at White Hart Lane. In Sanchez’s midfield, he seemed a little too much of a luxury – although I would have sent Steven Davis packing a long time before our former manager did – but nobody can argue with the fact that he’s been deserving of the role that Roy Hodgson has afforded him. He’s obviously already written his name into Fulham folklore after that goal at Portsmouth last May, but it would be foolish to end Murphy’s entry there.
Hodgson rightly commended his performance yesterday:
[Murphy is] doing a remarkable job in his quiet way.
There’s surely plenty more to come from our Captain fantastic. The Observer might have given his central midfield colleague the man of the match award yesterday, but what do they know? The real star of the show doesn’t want or need the acclaim of some fickle media hacks. He might be more used to winning titles, but he’s winning plenty more fans with these performances.