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Opinion

Steve Bruce winger comments don’t make any sense, unless somebody is leaving…

1 month ago
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A lifelong Newcastle United fan, family are Newcastle fans, signing for the Magpies was a dream come true for Jacob Murphy.

As Newcastle were getting instant promotion back to the Premier League, a 21 year old Jacob Murphy was having his own breakthrough season.

After a series of League One loan moves, Murphy got a regular start for Norwich and was very impressive, making 32 Championship starts in 2016/17 and scoring nine goals as a winger / attacking midfielder.

Rafa Benitez had a limited budget on returning to the Premier League but took a gamble on the now 22 year old’s potential, probably having caught the Spaniard’s eye in September 2016, when Jacob Murphy scored one and got an assist as Norwich went down 4-3 in a thrilling match at St James Park.

Fast forward over three years and only 16 Premier League starts later, fair to say Murphy’s move to Newcastle hasn’t been a great success, the only real stand out moment, a very cool finish at the Etihad when running onto a loose ball and sprinting away from the Man City defence to score in a 3-1 defeat in January 2018.

On Wednesday night though, Jacob Murphy was man of the match, the key role in the first goal helping set up Joelinton, a great through ball for Almiron to finish, then the third goal saw Murphy himself power up the middle of the pitch before bending a 25 yarder around the keeper with his weaker left foot.

Steve Bruce straight after the match saying this about Jacob Murphy’s future:

“I won’t be letting him out [on loan].

“After that kind of performance, I definitely won’t be letting him go.

“He deserves to stay with us.

“He has improved enormously and I have been very pleased with him, even though he hasn’t made the squad for the weekend [against Brighton].

“We have got a lot of players to choose from but at this particular moment, I won’t be letting Jacob go.

“He has had a really good pre-season and showed a great attitude towards it.

“He’s benefited from being out on loan and had a really good loan last year at Sheffield Wednesday, who think really highly of him.

“He is a good young player, who’s direct and quick, and he has grasped his chance and really given us food for thought.

“Arguably, he was our best player tonight, so fair play to him for that.”

The thing is, Steve Bruce can say as much as he likes about having a great pre-season and wanting to keep Jacob Murphy at the club, but does this bear any relation to reality.

The Newcastle team for the opening Premier League match against West Ham (and same against Brighton) was:

Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lewis, Shelvey, Hayden, Hendrick, Saint-Maximin, Wilson, Carroll

Jacob Murphy wasn’t even named on the bench for either game.

Last midweek, for the Blackburn game Steve Bruce made 10 changes to the team and named:

Gillespie, Manquillo, Krafth, Clark, Yedlin, Ritchie, Barlaser, Sean Longstaff, Almiron, Fraser, Joelinton

So 21 players chosen in the first two matches and Jacob Murphy still doesn’t get a start.

Instead, Murphy got 32 minutes as a sub in that Blackburn game.

With nine changes made to the team that played Brighton, Jacob Murphy at last got his first start under Steve Bruce, albeit against a team that were 89th of 91 in the four leagues last season.

When you factor in that the likes of Gayle, Schar, Dummett and Matty Longstaff (and keeper Martin Dubravka) are all out injured as well, just where does Jacob Murphy come in the pecking order at St James Park?

Would he even make the 25 man Premier League squad?

The only thing that would make any sense with Steve Bruce’s comments, is if a winger / midfielder (or two) who is ranked ahead of him was leaving.

As things stand, without injuries, Jacob Murphy has no chance of making the Premier League bench, never mind the first team.

Good luck to Murphy but I think if an offer comes in to buy him, Steve Bruce will take it and use the cash and saved wages to help bring in a striker and/ or central defender he still needs.

Steve Bruce talks about a young player but Jacob Murphy turns 26 in February and needs to make a career elsewhere.

He scored nine goals on loan at Championship West Brom last season and that appears to be the reality, a very good Championship player but not quite at Premier League level.

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