Let’s be frank about things down at the Cardiff City Stadium and beyond. It’s been tedious. It’s been uninspiring. It’s been… a bit shit. If we were tarnished as an anti-football side last season with players like Victor Camarasa turning out for us, what are we now? The hallmark of a Neil Warnock football team; direct, enormous, route-one brutes.
Of course, a side of route-one brutes isn’t always a bad thing. From the outset of Warnock’s tenure, we’ve never been a side looking to rack up the possession stats. Our promotion season is a prime example of how that long-winded game plan can be executed through a forty-six game Championship slog.
In these carefully selected Warnock-ball sides though, there have previously been players who bring enough flair to see us summon game-winning creativity that gives us the edge. Ken Zohore back when he wasn’t firing blanks, a prime Junior Hoilett, and Victor. Oh, Victor. But now, much of this responsibility rests on the shoulders of Josh Murphy.
If you’ve watched Cardiff City at all in the past 12 months or so, you’ll have spotted the attacking prowess of Murphy a mile off. He’s lightning quick, has fantastic feet and is unpredictable in his movement. In short, he’s a nightmare for defenders. So it pains me to see many City fans misdirecting their frustration towards an apathetic start to the season at our most dangerous player.
I’ve sat and cursed Murphy from the stands with the best of them when he’s not been putting a shift in, so I know him to be a frustrating character when the chips are down. Sometimes he blows hot and cold, and he can look wildly disinterested when things aren’t going his way. But this is true of some of the best players in the world and it’s something that is only exacerbated by the unnecessary criticism that fans dish out online. Yet in a heartbeat, players and fans alike will turn to Murphy as the player to turn shit in to gold. This can be a tough and thankless burden to bear when it’s your nine-to-five. What I’m saying is that we’ve got to take Murphy’s flaws on the chin, because for me he compensates – and then some – with his attacking output.
Look at the headaches he caused defenders last year, in the Premier League no less. He turned some of the best full-backs in the top-flight inside out and presented such a danger to defenders that they allocated many of their resources towards dealing with him, thus creating opportunities for other players on the pitch. If he can do it in the Premier League, imagine the damage he can do in the Championship.
And damage he’s doing, in all relativity. Two goals and two assists in six tepid games is an impressive return considering Cardiff are widely considered to be underperforming. A cracking goal against tough opposition in the Fulham game underpins the talent of a young winger in his prime. Is there any other player in our side that can make the opposition look like such idiots? Delightful, really.
Against Luton, too, his pace and his feet had the full-back on tenterhooks (and in the book). Plus, he whipped in the sumptuous free-kick that Flint got one of his long limbs on the end of to put us 1-0 up. These are things that fans are all too quick to ignore or forget in their stubbornness or their fickleness.
A confidence player needs the backing of the fans, and a confidence player Murphy definitely is. Cast your aspersions aside and watch him fluster defenders from now until May. Just don’t let him fluster you, too.