It is pretty common knowledge that Danny Murphy wants to be a manager one day. With a vacancy at the club that he captains and has a great deal of affection for, combined with his ambition to manage and inevitable retirement in the near future it is no suprise that speculation about his future here is pretty highly debated; the Bookies have him as one of the favourites. And while this would be a sweet ending to his playing career, I can’t see it happening, not now anyway.
Firstly from Fulham’s point of view it would be a risk to employ a complete rookie as manager. The league now is so competitive that a few points slip up for club like us who finished comfortably mid table will mean a certain relegation battle. Rarely will a player who goes straight into management instantly pick up the subleties and demands of management to a high standard (in lower divisions it is more common to see success in this way since the more talented young managers will be able to hold their own against the less talented and experienced ones, but off the top of my head I can’t even remember a player going straight from playing to management in the Premier League). It is a learning curve which induces risk, one that we can’t afford to take., even with a guiding hand like Ray Lewington as his assistant. The last two ‘experiments’ with similarly inexperienced managers Sanchez and Coleman almost ended in disaster despite having many years coaching experience, and in Sanchez’ case it was a spectacular failure. No doubt that Murphy is more suitable for top flight management than those two, at least from the characteristics he displays as player and captain, but it demonstrates how hard it is to hit the ground running. I know we had a good couple of years under Coleman but from his career path after them they seem to have been one offs. Whether it was down to good fortune or if he just ran out of ideas, I’m not sure.
Secondly, Murphy himself probably knows that it is not the time for him. While I am sure that he will have been tempted to submit an application for the job, he is sensible enough I think to recognise that he himself is not the right man for the job. He will also feel that he has at least a year, if not two, left in him to play and prove himself as a player in his mid thirties at the ‘top level’. The career of a professional football is not long and he won’t want to reduce it any further than he has to. Going off the Talksport article earlier, it doesn’t sound like he is interested.
However there is no doubt in my or Murphy’s mind that he will be a manager. I expect that as soon as he retires he will either coach with us or become assistant at a lower league club. The attributes he has, such as level-headedness, intelligence, determination and being able to motivate lend themselves well to being a good manager, and already he displays a fairly deep understanding of the game. His experiences with previous managers will no doubt rub off on him too. Dario Gradi from his time at Crewe will have, from a young age, instilled a passing philosophy even with the lesser talented players in the lower leagues. The success he had at Liverpool and time at England means he knows first hand what you need in a team, both in terms of mentality and player quality, to win trophies and accolades. Murphy’s experienced the opposite side of the game with us too, having score the goal to keep us up in ’08, and considering the glowing terms that he talks about Roy in it will be interesting to see how much of his management style is influenced by what he learnt under Roy; I’m sure it’ll be fairly substantial.
So, give it 5 or 6 years of coaching and managerial experience and I will gladly accept Danny Murphy as Fulham manager because I’m certain that he is destined to be one of the better English managers of his generation, having had experiences that will have taught him alot and the brain to take advantage of what he knows. But, right now, we can’t afford the risk, and neither can Danny.