Hughton gave me my big break, but I’m out to upset him – Josh
THE nature of Cardiff City’s summer transfer business and their squad’s lack of Premier League experience means there was always going to be pressure on Josh Murphy.
Fortunately, the flying Bluebirds star has been instilled with confidence throughout his fledgling career, not just by his current boss Neil Warnock but by the man in the opposition dugout on Saturday.
Brighton boss Chris Hughton handed Murphy his start in football, introducing the then 18-year-old to a 2013 League Cup tie for Norwich against Watford.
And just like he’s done for Cardiff, Murphy made a rapid start. He scored seven minutes after coming on as a substitute.
So, while the 23-year-old has plenty to thank Hughton for, he’s determined to build on his rebirth in a blue shirt – leading the way with two goals so far this term – and continue his development as a Premier League player.
“For most of the squad coming into the Premier League it’s about adapting and getting used to our surroundings as quick as we can,” admitted Murphy.
“It’s taken a while but now we’re starting to get the rhythm and enjoy the Premier League more so than at the start of the season. There’s always room for improvement – until we start winning games consistently – and that’s something we’re trying to do.
“I’m really enjoying my football and (Cardiff) is a good place to play, somewhere that suits me.”
Murphy is quickly justifying the £11million fee Cardiff paid for him from Norwich, but hasn’t forgotten his roots in East Anglia, nor the debt of gratitude he owes to Hughton.
He’s also under no illusions about the strength of the Seagulls, this weekend’s visitors to Cardiff City Stadium.
“Brighton are a well organised team. I know Chris Hughton from my time at Norwich so it’s going to be good to see him,” he added.
“He was great, he gave me my debut so I can’t thank him enough. But when the game comes we’ll be trying to put the ball past his team.
On that debut, he recalled: “I remember being nervous about playing my first game, but seven minutes after I came on, I’d scored, so it wasn’t too bad.
“I really like him (Hughton) as a man and a manager and I think he’s done a great job at Brighton and I think he’s happy there. So long may his success continue. Brighton have done well this season but our focus is on what we can do to win the game, we know how important our home form is.”
The spotlight is on Murphy a little more now than it was five years ago at Norwich.
His promising form is not going unnoticed, a couple of high-profile pundits recently picking him out for praise. Warnock, too, is seemingly placing more faith in Murphy as a key attacking outlet.
“You’ve got to take the good with the bad,” Murphy said on the highs and lows that come with extra scrutiny.
“But I’m relishing playing week-in and week-out and I want to continue to get better.
“At the moment it’s going well but even when it’s not, I want to keep the same aura about me.”
But shouldering Cardiff’s survival hopes in his first Premier League season since that spell as an 18-year-older under Hughton is no easy task for Murphy.
Diplomatically, he says it will be a team effort that keeps the Bluebirds up – even though fans will be looking to the left wing on Saturday for attacking thrust.
“It’s really tight at the bottom, one win and you’re out of the bottom three,” Murphy added.
“For us and other teams, we know you’re so close to being out of the relegation zone. It’s a good situation that we’re in because we’re not expected to do well, there are other teams around us that shouldn’t be where they are, but who are struggling. We’re happy at the moment and hopefully we can climb up the table.
“We now know we’ve got a good run of games, we’ve played all the big teams people talk about and we’ve learned our lessons about letting in cheap, easy goals.
On current form, there’s no reason why Josh Murphy can’t look forward to every game. achievements speak for themselves and sometimes you’ve got to be careful what you wish for.
“Newcastle were in a super position when they got rid of him. He’s bad for us as managers, he’s so nice! He gives us a bad reputation.”
“They’ll have good backing this weekend and it will be another tough game. “Neil’s comments this morning are nice — but it’s also difficult in this profession to be nice all the time because there are always tough decisions that you have to make to have success.
“I have great respect for him and our paths have crossed many times. He continues to do a very good job at Cardiff. I’ll look forward to seeing him whatever the result.”
Chris Hughton: Who are the key men?
THE Bluebirds will rely on the pace of Josh Murphy down the left. The former Norwich youngster has been their most impressive attacking performer this season and has two goals already to his name.
In midfield, the craft and guile of Victor Camarasa will again prove pivotal although Warnock has been fielding the Spaniard in a nominal right-wing role.
Brighton, as always, will be heavily reliant on the solid centre-back pairing of Lewis Dunk and Shane Duffy. Their partnership has been of the Premier League’s more impressive pairings in the past season or two.
What are the odds? All odds according to Sky Bet and correct at time of writing. Cardiff win: Brighton win: Draw:
2/1 6/4 2/1