If ever there was a Newcastle performance that didn’t typify Steve Bruce’s time at St James’ Park, then Friday night’s clash against Manchester City was exactly that.
The Magpies threw caution to the wind and went toe-to-toe with the recently crowned Premier League champions, and can count themselves desperately unlucky not to have come away with at least a point.
The Tyneside club took the lead on two separate occasions, but found Ferran Torres in inspired form, with the Spaniard’s hat-trick eventually turning things around for Pep Guardiola’s men and seeing them win 4-3.
And while the likes of Joelinton and Joe Willock will get their fair share of the credit for their goal-scoring displays, it was Jacob Murphy who was arguably Bruce’s real star man on Friday, even despite being involved in a back-line that conceded four.
Playing once again in that right wing-back role, the 26-year-old showed the kind of dynamism that has been missing from Newcastle all season, getting up and down the flank with real energy and sticking to his defensive task superbly.
As per Sofascore, his totals of ten duels won and six tackles made were both the highest of any player on the pitch for either side, and a real testament to the way he dealt with City’s devastating left-flank of Raheem Sterling and Joao Cancelo on the overlap.
Such was Murphy’s performance and the way he shackled City’s Portuguese star, popular fan account NUFC360 tweeted: “Jacob Murphy just made an absolute mug of Joao Cancelo with his defending and strength. Has improved that area of his game massively this season. #nufc 2-2″.
The dynamo also completed two out of his three dribbles as he also looked to take the game to City too, while only Allan Saint-Maximin provided more key passes than him in a Newcastle shirt.
Writing in his post-match player ratings for The Shields Gazette, Liam Kennedy gave him a seven, saying: “Every time he plays just seems to get better and better defensively. Unlucky for the deflection on the Cancelo goal, but did well against the Portuguese.”
And, in writing for The Chronicle, Lee Ryder praised the wing-back’s attacking instincts, saying: “A real threat going forward and could have got on the scoresheet.”
Newcastle may not have come away with all three points against City, but Murphy’s outstanding display was the real shining light for Bruce in what was a thrilling game to watch.