Exactly what Neil Harris has done to rejuvenate Murphy

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Exactly what Neil Harris has done to rejuvenate Murphy

Postby Forever Blue » Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:06 pm

Exactly what Neil Harris has done to rejuvenate Josh Murphy's Cardiff City career

Bluebirds supporters were desperate to see the winger produce this season and while it might have taken some time, he is finally showing his class


Thursday 13th February 2020


Josh Murphy of Cardiff celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Huddersfield (Image: Huw Evans Picture Agency)
Before Cardiff City's season began, fans were licking their lips at the prospect of Josh Murphy terrorising Championship defences.

He had shown glimpses of it in the Premier League and, of course, we all knew his qualities at Norwich City when he was tearing up the second tier.

So it has been frustrating for all parties that he has not hit the ground running this term.

If you think, at the start of the season, the likes of Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, Junior Hoilett, Murphy, Bobby Reid and Lee Tomlin were the men tasked with driving Cardiff City's attacking juggernaut and shiny new signing Robert Glatzel, fresh off the back of a hat-trick against Bayern Munich, was set to lead the line.

It was a mouthwatering prospect for all supporters – this was a forward line that was going to take the league by storm.

Alas, it never quite worked out like that.

Reid was sold on deadline day, Tomlin struggled to get into the side under Neil Warnock, Mendez-Laing and Hoilett blew hot and cold and struggled for fitness and Glatzel has taken some time to adjust to this abrasive, uncompromising league following his switch from the German second division.

And then there was Murphy, who also struggled with consistency, but came under a far more magnified scope of scrutiny.

The problem Murphy has is that his flashes of brilliance come in fits and starts, with his willingness to run at defenders and use his pace and trickery the foundation of his attack.

With that attacking endeavour, however, comes a fair share of blunted opportunities and that's when he courts the criticism from some fans.

His £11m transfer fee is also a bone of contention among some and, as Neil Harris has said, might count against him.

Harris has spoken about Tomlin being a maverick, but even some of the things he tries don't come off. He is in an incredible run of form at the moment and as such, those flicks and tricks are coming off far more regularly. But time and time again in his career, Tomlin has endured difficult spells.

But, importantly, you need those players in your team if you are to be successful. Celtic know that, too.

Last month the Bluebirds had to fend off advances from the Scottish giants, who wanted Murphy on a loan deal with a view to buy. There are even reports they will come back in for him this summer.

For a club with such steeped history and standing in the world game to come for one of your players who, by and large, had been a passenger for the last couple of months, shows just what quality he has and the potential which, frustratingly, hadn't been tapped into this season.

There was seemingly a turning point, though.

Up at Carlisle in the FA Cup replay with the game poised at 1-1, the ball dropped out of the sky and Murphy produced a wondrous volley to fire City back into the lead.

It was a moment in which you thought: 'How many other players in this Cardiff City squad could produce a moment like that?'

Tomlin, certainly, Hoilett maybe, too, but it was a clear reminder of the abundance of talent that courses through Murphy's veins.

In the FA Cup replay with Reading just last week, Murphy was head and shoulders the best player on the park. He scored twice, the first rifled home with his left foot from 25 yards out and the second a toe poke in extra-time.


Murphy scored twice against Reading last week and is in a rich vein of form (Image: Getty Images)
He had his chances in the FA Cup and grabbed them with both hands. Now he doesn't want to let the shirt go.

Credit to Neil Harris, too, for realising that Cardiff have needed a more attacking edge of late. He addressed that problem with the signing of Albert Adomah and placing his trust in Murphy in recent weeks and the results have been nothing short of excellent.

When Harris came in, coaxing the best out of Murphy was one of the biggest jobs on Harris' agenda.

Lest we forget Murphy was jeered off the pitch by some sections of supporters at Cardiff City Stadium in the game against Preston just before Christmas, which left fans divided.

It was a problem which needed addressing and Harris has done just that. He appears to have put his arm around him, reiterated to him his importance to the club and afforded him an attacking freedom from which he is flourishing.

But also, importantly, Harris has him understanding his defensive responsibilities and now his all-round contribution is bearing fruit for City.

"Sometimes, when a new manager comes in, some people get an opportunity straight away and they grab it, Lee Tomlin for example," Harris said after the 3-0 win over Huddersfield.

"Some people have to be a little bit patient to find their way back in, Sean Morrison for example.

"Murphs has been one that has taken a little bit longer, probably like (Will) Vaulks to an extent. A little bit longer to get the way I want to play and understand both sides of the game.

"It's not just about with the ball, it's without the ball as well, and how disciplined we have to be and hard working.

"There's a trust element in the group. I've said to the guys you have to trust the fella standing next to you to be a really good team and at the moment that trust is there in the group.

"Josh, if he keeps doing that will keep getting his rewards because we all know his capabilities and ability with the ball."

That was never more clear than up at Huddersfield last night.

Cardiff's first goal was a thing of beauty. After some neat and succinct passing play on the right flank, Tomlin cut inside and slipped Murphy through with a beautifully-weighted pass with the outside of his boot.

The winger raced on to it, showing a turn of pace which meant he was free from the back-peddling defenders and one-on-one with Jonas Lossl.



The finish was sublime, too, an audacious chip over the goalkeeper to put Cardiff ahead.

And maybe, just maybe, that is a sign of the old Josh Murphy swagger coming back.

With the promotion race reaching boiling point, City fans, and Harris, will be desperate for his form to continue on this upward trajectory. They're going to need him, that's for sure.
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Exactly what Neil Harris has done to rejuvenate Murphy

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