Call the ambulance, the Fulham lifeblood is bleeding out.
This is without question the most difficult post I have had to do since starting this site.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a player who’s given more to the Fulham community than Danny Murphy. He leaves Craven Cottage a Fulham legend.
It’s being reported this morning/afternoon that the only thing between the Fulham captain and Ewood Park is a medical which will take place shortly (slash may have already happened). Murphy, now 35 years old, is a free agent at the end of the month and, like Andrew Johnson and Pavel Pogrebnyak before him, has not been able to come to a new contract agreement with Martin Jol and the Fulham brass.
The move comes as a bit of a shock, considering he had these words to say in April:
I have spoken to the club [Fulham] a couple of times but there’s no great urgency with me because I’m happy and they are happy with me. I’d be surprised if it didn’t get sorted.
It’s a move that tells us a LOT about what Fulham/Martin Jol are thinking, as well as what Danny Murphy ultimately wants, for the sole reason that there’s only one possible scenario that makes any sense here.
It tells us the following:
1) Martin Jol wouldn’t give Murphy more than a 1-year deal, and Danny wants a 2-year deal for security.
2) Danny Murphy wants to play every game as many minutes as possible, and still thinks his body can handle the beating. Unfortunately for him, not only Martin Jol, but every other Premier League boss, doesn’t agree. This tells me that as much as I think he’s got a bit left in the tank (which I have said multiple times), no other Premier League team thinks he does, and that’s telling. Maybe I’m wrong.
3) What Danny Murphy ultimately wants is to stretch out his career as long as possible to provide for his family, while getting as much playing time as possible. If this means dropping a league to the Championship, then so be it.
4) Martin Jol is REALLY serious about getting younger that he’s even willing to risk allowing the captain, midfield glue, and fan favorite on the club to leave.
It’s also a risky move for the following reason: if Blackburn Rovers aren’t promoted after this coming season, you can pretty much kiss any chance Danny Murphy has of playing in the Premier League goodbye. He’s not going to get signed by a team at 36 years old coming UP a league unless he somehow bangs in a Dempsey-like goal total from the midfield, which we all know isn’t happening. But obviously that risk is worth it to Murphy to secure consistent playing time. If he signed with Fulham, he’d be a first-choice midfielder no doubt about it, but Jol clearly thinks he would need ample rest, and Murphy doesn’t agree.
This is also a risky move by Martin Jol. Letting Pogrebnyak and Johnson leave on free transfers is one thing. Letting Danny Murphy go is a whole other animal. Now, if the club struggles out of the gate next season, people have something directly to point to when criticizing the manager. Immediate results are now needed to keep Jol out of the frying pan or fire. It’s just the nature of the beast. Let a legend walk, and you better damn well know what you’re doing or the fan base is going to ignite. I’m not saying Jol doesn’t know what he’s doing; he sure has access to a lot more information than we do. But this is a move he cannot afford to get wrong, or it could possibly be one he never recovers from.
One last note, I’m expecting Brede Hangeland to move into the captain’s role. That would be the logical choice, as any time Murphy came off for a substitute it was Hangeland who received the armband.
Now that we’ve successfully dissected the move, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on Murphy’s Fulham career.
The Captain will no longer be directing the midfield at Craven Cottage.
Murphy signed for Fulham in 2007 after spells with Liverpool, Tottenham, and Carlton Athletic. He’d been hailed during his time with Liverpool by assistant manager Phil Thompson as the “most tactically aware player that we have” and won the Reds’ Player of the Year award in 2002/2003.
His time with Fulham included many ups and downs, but during his spell at Craven Cottege, when he made 210 appearances and scoring 29 goals. The most defining moment was his header goal against Portsmouth in May 2008 to secure Premier League status for the following season, completing “The Great Escape” that year.
His work rate and ability to direct on the pitch, as well as his leadership abilities off the pitch, have shown an incredibly unique combination perfect for the role of captain, and those qualities will be quite difficult to replace.
No player is above the team or the game, and Fulham F.C. will move on without Danny Murphy. But it will be a very, very different place, and there no doubt will be a massive void which Martin Jol will have great difficulty finding a viable replacement. We’ll miss Danny greatly, and like I said before, Martin Jol better damn well know what he’s doing. As a fan I’m not angry or upset, but red flags are starting to pop up. Fulham’s loss is Steve Kean’s gain. Good luck to Danny, and we’ll miss you.
Fulham fan or not, what are your thoughts on Murphy’s departure? Was it time? Or should Jol have given him another year or two?