For the self-proclaimed toughest and most competitive league in the world, people involved in the Premier League can be sensitive souls. Despite the competition’s popularity being built on its high-tempo and full throttle action, a media furore has ensued following Fulham captain Danny Murphy’s recent intimation that some players are so ‘pumped up’ before matches that they are prone to committing reckless challenges. He even went on record in naming Blackburn, Stoke and Wolves as the main culprits.
In reality, Murphy’s point is fair, and actually, pretty obvious. Playing a high intensity contact sport coupled with an insatiable desire to win could lead to mistimed tackles and ultimately injuries, you say? That’s hardly a revelation. He was also correct in saying managers should be responsible for the conduct of their players on the pitch. But Sam Allardcye, Tony Pulis and Mick McCarthy all responded by delivering slights towards Murphy during their Friday press conferences.
Being both an experienced professional and media savvy, Murphy should have known that by naming those three clubs, the focus of his argument would be twisted to make it more newsworthy. But perhaps he didn’t care. Considering the vast amount of coverage football receives from television, radio and the written press, seldom is anything said that is actually truly worth reporting. It’s tiresome hearing managers and players saying the same things week-in, week-out, with superficial statements such as ‘doing what’s best for the football club’, ‘having the right mentality’ and ‘giving a good account of ourselves’ dominating the pre-game news agenda.
Regardless of whether you agree with him or not, it was enjoyable to hear Murphy speaking in such a brash and forthright manner. I’m not suggesting press conferences should be contrived or something akin to WWE trash-talking, but how much more interesting would the Premier League be if people said how they really felt? We should be celebrating honesty, not damning it.
Unfortunately, Murphy has been crucified for his comments. The next player with something on his mind will probably think better of it and keep his mouth shut, thus saving himself a week of aggravation. Once this storm blows over, football will return to a world of largely redundant phrases. And that's a real shame.