Luke Murphy, the forgotten man

20 Jan 2015 02:04 pm, by YorkshireSquare

It wasn’t long ago that Leeds fans would have baulked at the sight of Luke Murphy in the middle of midfield. The million pound man from Crewe Alexandra had a lot of expectation on his shoulders when he was singed ahead of the start of the 2013-2014 season but he failed to live up to the hype.

He was GFH Capital’s big statement, only statement as it turns out, and the pressure was on for him to perform. As the season went on Murphys form was inconsistent and he came in for a lot of criticism from the Leeds fans as often happens when players do not live up to their expectations. The poor form continued into this season and on the rare occasion when Murphy has played the same weaknesses in his game were apparent, the sending off against Bradford City being a particular lowlight.

In the last few weeks though Murphy has been reborn. Having not featured since October Murphy was selected for the FA Cup game against Sunderland as Redfearn cast aside the shackles of the diamond and played a different formation and different players. Murphy was solid if unspectacular but has not been out of the squad since. Against Bolton he had the most touches of any Leeds player at 57, his closest rival being his midfield partner Rudy Austin with 52. He even had the most shots at 5 but failed to hit the target with any. His willingness to receive the ball and get stuck in defensively marked him out as one of the top performers for many Leeds fans.

His revival continued against Birmingham with a man of the match performance. Again he had the most touches with 72 but this time he backed it up with good passing too. A total of 53 passes, the most of any player, with a passing accuracy of 83%, 7 crosses and 5 key passes. He backed up his performance in defence too with 2 tackles and 2 interceptions but it was going forward where the headlines were written. Murphy has 3 shots, 2 on target and most importantly 1 goal which gave Leeds a share of the points. Neil Redfearn, only too aware of Murphys time in the wilderness, was quick to praise his attitude after the game;

“To be fair to Luke, he has come in after having his nose pushed out for a while. But his atittude has been fantastic. I thought last year when he came in for a little bit of criticism for being a big-money signing that he never hid. He wants the ball all the time and never hides and always gets it. If he makes a mistake, it doesn’t faze him and he keeps getting on it. I admire that grit and determination.”

As unlikely as it may have seemed just a few weeks ago Murphys name will be one of the first on the team sheet tonight as we take on Bournemouth at Elland Road. We have been crying out for some Championship experience in this transfer window to help in the relegation fight, but if Murphy continues to play as he has in recent weeks what we have been looking for may have been under our noses all along. Credit must also go to Steve Morison who has provided something different in recent games and whilst he has not been clinical in front of goal himself he could be the perfect foil for Billy Sharp or Mirco Antenucci. On average this season we have created 4 more chances per game when Morison has been on the pitch.

Tonight will be a tough challenge with Bournemouth flying high at the top of the table having won 6 of their last 7 games. Leeds have not won in 8 games in any competition. History is on the side of Leeds though, Bournemouth have only one 1 of the 12 meetings between the two clubs and Leeds have won all 6 matches at Elland Road. We also took the spoils earlier this season winning 3-1 back in September with goals from Doukara, Bellusci and Antenucci.

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theleedsmango wrote on 22 Jan 2015 01:29 pm

I'll make it clear at the start I don't encourage booing any player. However, Murphy deserved to be dropped. There were better options, people who deserved a shot above Murphy as his form was poor. There are many claiming that some of us were wrong for losing faith in Murphy, but perhaps it was the criticism and lack of selection that made him want to prove the point. If we had kept playing him during poor form, the criticism would continue to get higher as his confidence continued to get lower.

It's my favourite personality for a player to have. One who comes back fighting with a point to prove and to win over the fans, not complain about lack of football and demand a move. The Leeds fanbase is tough at times but win them over (and they can be won over - Stephen Warnock in the past, Murphy/Morrison now perhaps) and you'll be lifted 100 feet in the air.

Credit to Redfearn as for the past few run of games there have been "WTF" reactions at the team sheet but he's willing to give everyone a try. It's fine now that Bianchi might face a time out of the team. Let's see how he reacts, because one thing is clear and that is that Redders will give him a chance.

Good article, Shieldsy!

Crewefan wrote on 20 Jan 2015 10:04 pm

Thanks to the writer. I always thought Murphy would take a while to find his feet - he did for us, he's that type of player - but I always knew he'd come good. Reading this article was enough to make me realise he was finally showing the form that saw him score 20 in 2 years for us.

I stuck £20 on Leeds at 4/1, £10 on Murphy to score at 17/2 and £5 on Murphy first goal at 28/1.

Much appreciated, and good article too.