A graduate of the Norwich City academy, 23-year-old Josh Murphy emerged as a target for Neil Warnock earlier this week. New first broke as bookmakers made Murphy odds on favourite to join Cardiff, while the Telegraph’s John Percy confirmed the news on Monday morning.
— John Percy (@JPercyTelegraph) June 11, 2018
Murphy’s move comes one year after his twin brother, Jacob, also made the move to the Premier League. Jacob joined Newcastle United, who survived relegation last season, but struggled to hold down a first team position, making just 25 appearances last year.
By Tuesday morning, he was officially announced as a Cardiff player.
Murphy’s move comes one year after his twin brother, Jacob, also made the move to the Premier League. Jacob joined Newcastle United, who survived relegation last season, but struggled to hold down a first team position, making just 25 appearances.
As Josh swaps East Anglia for South Wales and the Championship for the Premier League, we take a look at what the winger will bring to Warnock’s Cardiff side. As well as analysing what the stats suggest about Murphy’s output, we also caught up with Norwich fans Ryan Mason, founder of Glory Magazine, and Jon Punt, co-founder of Along Come Nodge.
What the stats say
Last season, Josh Murphy played in 47 games for Norwich City in all competitions, notching 11 goals.
When comparing Murphy to Cardiff’s current first choice wingers – Junior Hoilett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing – the stats suggest that Murphy doesn’t look like an immediate upgrade. It is, of course, worth noting that Murphy played in a struggling Norwich City side. The Canaries finished 14th last season and scored 20 fewer goals than Cardiff did.
Junior Hoilett had a stellar season last year, so it is perhaps unfair to compare Murphy to him. Nathaniel Mendez-Laing gives us more of an accurate comparison to see how Murphy will fare in a Cardiff shirt.
Both players match up pretty similarly. WIth six goals a piece, Mendez-Laing slightly edges Murphy with 35 chances created compared to 30 and four assists compared to Murphy’s two.
Josh Murphy, like his brother Jacob, is a pacy winger, who on his day is one of the best in the Championship at running at defenders. When coupled with his trickery and dribbling skills, Murphy has the ability to beat his man.
“Murphy has the quality you just can’t teach and frightens defenders – pace. Coupled with that, he has quick feet and a number of tricks in his locker which means at his very best he can be unplayable,” Jon tells us.
Last season in the Championship, Murphy completed 54.15% of his attempted take-ons, slightly below Hoilett and Mendez-Laing.
Ryan echoes Jon’s thoughts: “Josh is very direct, he likes to take on players and has a decent shot in his locker. His strengths are definitely his pace, directness and long-range shots.”
Murphy, with his pace, fits the mould of winger that Neil Warnock seems to be keen on having in his Cardiff squad. Both Hoilett and Mendez-Laing, as well as the likes of Khadeem Harris and loanee Yanic Wildschut, have bags of pace, which works well with the hold up play of Kenneth Zohore up front.
When writing about him for Football Whispers in April, James Nalton argued that Murphy’s greatest strength is perhaps his versatility. The Norwich man is able to operate off either flank, although playing on the left and cutting in on his right foot is his preferred position.
“Josh is predominantly an attacking left sided player, at least that’s where he’s deployed best,” said Jon. “Daniel Farke experimented with him as a second striker throughout last season, only really realising towards the end of the campaign his natural gifts would be better utilised in wide areas. That’s not to say he couldn’t do a job up front in time, just that throughout youth football, and in most of his 100 career appearances thus far, he’s been a better fit on the wing.”
That versatility can be a great tool for Warnock next year. It remains to be seen how Junior Hoilett and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing will fare in the Premier League, so having Murphy ready to step in if either are struggling would be a bonus.
Despite only notching six goals last year, Murphy offers a goal threat to the attack.
His output per 90 minutes is considerably higher than both Hoilett and Mendez-Laing, with Murphy averaging 3.41 shots per 90 minutes compared to Hoilett’s 2.16.
His shot accuracy may be lower than Cardiff’s Nathaniel Mendez-Laing, but that is understandable considering the higher volume of shots he takes.
Perhaps what is most impressive is the high number of shots Murphy takes from within the opposition box (1.72 per 90 mins). With the context of the way that Cardiff play, often direct with the wingers pouncing on knockdowns from Zohore, this is promising.
As well as this, Murphy also has the ability to score from distance, as demonstrated with his wonder goal against Aston Villa in April.
The Norwich view
“The issue for Norwich fans is we just haven’t seen that consistently, his performances have varied wildly depending on his confidence levels at the time.
Consistency is perhaps the only thing Josh needs to add to his game. Defensively he doesn’t feel like a natural fit for a side managed by Neil Warnock, yet at times he’s buckled down and done his duty in his own half. What he will however be remembered for, this season more than most, is his decision making. When playing off the cuff it all seems to flow, yet when he has time to think about his next move he can often stumble. End product is ultimately where wingers are judged, while Murphy has all the attributes to be a Premier League player, he can often resemble a Championship also ran when he’s not in the mood.
The reported fee (anywhere between £10m and £12m depending on which outlets you trust) seems on the high side, so it’s good business from a Norwich perspective. That said, if Cardiff can manage to regularly harness his natural abilities the sky is the limit. Even in a season where he is largely considered to have under achieved, he’s still managed double figures in terms of goals along with a fair number of assists.
Just like his twin brother Jacob, it all feels a bit too soon for Josh to be flying the nest. Another season at Championship level just might have been the making of him, yet this is clearly an opportunity he and his representatives think is too good to turn down. His Norwich career won’t have anyone clamouring for him to be inducted into our hall of fame, but he was a fine servant for the club. Best of luck to both Josh and Cardiff (just not Colin) next season.”
Jon is a Norwich fan and co-founder of Along Came Nodge.
“I think it’s decent business for both teams. £10 million is an OK fee – I’d prefer around £12m.
My feelings are that he was one of few threats for Norwich last year so I’m gutted to see him go, however a lot of Norwich fans were on his back last season… in my opinion harshly so.
The move was inevitable though with our current financial situation and the fact we didn’t progress last season. I’m not too sure if he’s up to Premier League standard but time will tell.”
Ryan is the founder of the excellent Glory Magazine.
Scott is a lifelong Cardiff City fan and freelance football writer. Scott hosts the VFTN podcast.