There have been many beneficiaries from Mick McCarthy’s rejuvenation of the Cardiff City squad. The likes of Harry Wilson, Aden Flint and Will Vaulks have all enjoyed a new lease of life under the tutelage of the Championship veteran.
But one individual who has particularly thrived is Josh Murphy.
Not so long ago, you may have been forgiven for believing Murphy’s career in the Welsh Capital was drawing to a close. A demoralising period of immateriality towards the end of Neil Harris’ reign saw the winger register just three league starts prior to his sacking.
Consequently, strong rumours linking Murphy to a temporary switch to Derby County, Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday emerged, further evoking the notion that his time at Cardiff was all but done.
Now, that is immeasurably far from the comforting reality.
As of recent, Murphy has enjoyed a new role in the side. Playing off the shoulder of Kieffer Moore, the fleet-footed forward has found great success in playing so high upfield, which allows him to make darting runs in behind defences and exploit pockets of space.
He has also been granted something of a free role across the final third. Although Murphy has been playing behind Moore, you can also see him drift wide frequently and courageously maraud down either flank.
You can truly accentuate Murphy’s success by his direct goal involvements; since McCarthy’s first match away to Barnsley, the 11m starlet has recorded two goal and three assists, a feat which has only been achieved in three starts.
Those sparkling, sensational showings against Coventry and Preston North End are for me, amongst his finest in Cardiff colours.
Illustrated was the same fearless aura of confidence that we so eagerly observed at the beginning of Cardiff’s Premier League season. So often, Murphy would be calling for the ball as much as possible.
As soon as he received possession, he would be looking to devastatingly drive forward with speed, venom and intent, subduing many top-level fullbacks to a nightmarish day at the office with his pace and destructive dribbling.
Much to the delight of City supporters everywhere, that menacing, masterly approach is thoroughly prominent once more.
Be it your phone, tablet or TV screen. Wherever you are tuning into Cardiff City’s matches at the moment, you can feel the abundance of confidence that is glossing from the in-form attacker.
He looks prepared to take risks in order to weave his magic, there is a display a willingness to wreck havoc and above all, he plays with a gleaming smile plastered across his face.
It is great to see the genuine version of the flyer who lit up Carrow Road and at times, South Wales, finally stringing together a run of consistently spellbinding performances.
And in McCarthy, it appears the key to igniting Murphy’s undoubted quality has finally been unearthed.
Speaking on yet another blistering performance from the City star, McCarthy said “I put my arm around him to start with, I felt he needed a bit of loving to be quite honest.
“He was a 12m player, you don’t become that and then something that’s a bit-part player and can’t play.
“I didn’t play him in the first two or three games. I sat him down, I told him my reasons why. He was happy with that, I wasn’t giving him any BS, I just told him exactly what I thought.”
On both a tactical and personal level, the resurgent mastermind has completely resurrected the dazzling destroyer.
“And (he had) to simplify his game,” he added. “In that final third, then you’re Josh Murphy, you are that fleet-footed, silky touch, beat players, create chances, goals.
“Middle third it’s about not giving it away, being disciplined.
“And, do you know what? He has brought into every single thing me and TC (assistant Terry Connor) have asked of him and tried to help him with.
“And I’m glad he’s reaping the rewards, he’s a lovely kid.”
Along with Sheyi Ojo, Murphy has seen his performances and direct contribution handed a sizeable enhancement following a modification to his playing position. That, coupled with the expert man-management prowess from McCarthy, is finally giving Cardiff City supporters the long-awaited gift of seeing Josh Murphy in full throttle.
Ultimately, it is incredibly comforting to see a manager that places such belief and trust in Murphy’s talents- which, for me, have never been a token of doubt nor question.
McCarthy then said “Josh, I just look at him and ask ‘would I like to have played against him? Running at me and running in behind me? No, I wouldn’t.
“He’s been allowed to run a bit freer as well, not just hugging that touchline. It’s suited him for now, let’s hope it continues to suit him, he’s doing really well.”
At his ravaging best, Josh Murphy is one of the division’s most dangerous attackers. Blessed with an agile, mobile frame, Murphy can operate in tight spaces and can move quickly between the lines. Also, the Englishman offers a goal threat to accompany a deadly delivery with both feet.
Consistency, rather than a lack of ability, has long seemed to be the plague behind Murphy’s fluctuating tenure at Cardiff City. Now though, it seems that has been eradicated from his game and he is ready to fly.
If Murphy can maintain performances of this sort, the role of being a Championship defender tasked with controlling the wide man is most certainly an unenviable proposition.
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