March has already been a great month for Daryl Murphy after he scored the winning goal in Ipswich’s victory over Birmingham and won his 10th cap for Ireland, five and a half years after winning his 9th cap.
However the former Sunderland player has not always been held in high regard at Portman Road and he received a lot of criticism at the start of this season. Murphy is not the most technically gifted forward and does not possess the speed, agility or flair of some of the divisions better strikers like David McGoldrick, so naturally has never been a fans favourite.
The Irishman’s goalscoring ratio isn’t anything to brag about either and before this season he had only scored 17 goals in 90 league games for Ipswich. In fact Murphy has played a part in some of the lowest moments in Ipswich’s recent history and was playing for sides that were always struggling at the foot of the table.
It was understandable that some fans were skeptical about the inclusion of Murphy as a key player this season but hopefully he has won at least some of his critics over by now. Admittedly his first few performances were under par at the very beginning of this season, however those with a tendency to look into the team composition could see that he would eventually become invaluable.
I cannot stress enough the positive influence that Mick McCarthy, Terry Connor and the tactical system they use have had on Murphy. The Irish international does more defensively for Ipswich than any other striker currently at the club and reminds me of the role that Shefki Kuqi used to occupy for the Suffolk side. Additionally, at 6 ft 2 Murphy is a great asset when defending set pieces and his strength combined with his willingness to track back also gives the side a huge advantage defending in open play.
He is also essential to the team on the offensive front for different reasons.
The 30-year-old has a good sense for where his teammates are located around him and is often heavily involved in build up play. He can also use his height to reach certain passes that others can’t and use his strength to keep the possession where other strikers would not be able to. Last of all he is the teams biggest threat in attacking set pieces and he has scored plenty of headed goals from free-kicks and corners so far this season.
A large portion of fans won’t appreciate these aspects of Murphy’s playing style and he has consistently performed well without receiving much recognition. It does appear that a lot of the Portman Road faithful would prefer to see Paul Taylor in place of Murphy but they do not understand the implications of such a change.
McCarthy has built his team around a playing style that he has had a lot of success with in the past and in each of those teams there has been a player very similar to Murphy.
Taylor is an exiting player without doubt but if you make the switch to include him you all of a sudden have to dramatically change the tactical set up from a successful system to a more unreliable one. Perhaps under another manager Taylor might play a more integral role but under McCarthy’s system Murphy is far more important and completely irreplaceable.