DANNY Murphy’s summer arrival at Blackburn Rovers was seen by many as a pivotal moment in Venky’s bid to earn an instant Premier League return.
A former England international who starred at Fulham in the top flight just the season previous, the 35-year-old was brought to Ewood to be the man to ‘run the show’.
Few can argue, three months in, his impact has been disappointing. Rather than providing the impetus for a promotion push, Murphy has had to cope with being a victim of the ‘boo-boys’ after struggling to reach the standards expected of him.
Jeers from the stands were followed by Murphy being axed from the starting line-up, but Henning Berg’s arrival as manager has sparked something of a mini revival.
Murphy was cheered off the pitch in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Birmingham and, having preceded that with an encour-aging display at Huddersfield, the midfielder is hoping the improvement continues.
He said: “The reception did mean a lot to me on Saturday, it meant a huge amount.
“I can guarantee I have been more frustrated than any fan when I haven’t been able to influence things on the pitch more than I have.
“It is funny you go back many years and my old Crewe manager Dario Gradi said ‘you are someone who will grow on fans’ .
“I had a slow start at Charlton and at Liverpool. Ideally I would like a fast start everywhere I play but, the way I play, I have to find my rhythm.
“It is only a couple of games playing well by the way.
“I need a couple of months for it to be beneficial to the team and for the supporters to see the best of me.
“I have been as frustrated as anyone I haven’t been able to bring the type of performance they expected having done it at Fulham.
“I think maybe partly I walked into it thinking maybe it would just happen the same.
“Football is not like that and obviously at this level other players and teams give me respect and try to shut me down and close me down and I have had to live with that and adapt to that.
“It did mean a lot because having the fans on side you can see the difference both in individual performances and the collective.
“When the fans are behind you, everything is positive. The lads spoke about it on Saturday about how the atmosphere was more relaxed, everyone seemed to be in together.
“There was an encouragement feeling about the place.
“The fans seemed with us. They have had a tough time, the supporters, I do feel for them but I can’t stress enough how important that (getting behind the team) is going to be – at home especially.
“Some players say they don’t hear things well, when they are behind you, you hear it.”
So what’s changed? Murphy believes a combination of factors have seen him starting to win his critics over.
Fitness and mentality are two reasons cited for his recent upturn but the biggest positive for the former Liverpool man is the methods of new boss Berg.
“The way we have played in the last two games is largely down to the manager and the fact he has been working hard on the training pitch on getting the ball out from the back and playing from the back,” said Murphy.
“Sometimes it is easy to say but working on the training pitch on how to play from the back when you are pressed has helped everyone in their possession and passing stats over the last couple of games.
“The position Ruben Rochina is playing and his last two performances have been vital for our improvement because what Ruben has got is fantastic ability to take the ball in, wherever he is, and keep it.
“He has great skills and great awareness and for me, when you are getting the ball more from the back four you are more likely to make something happen, and with Ruben always seeming to be in space it always gives me an option.
“For me to benefit a team we have to play a certain way. I need to be in a team that plays because I am a foot-baller.
“Analysing the stats as I do, there have not been enough games where I have felt I have had enough of the ball to make an impact.
“That is not looking for excuses because you can argue I should still have an impact and that is fair enough.”
Rovers travel to Peterborough this afternoon still looking to give Berg his first win as boss but Murphy is confident, if performances continue as they have in the past couple of games, results will soon follow.
He is also relishing his own role in the future, after admitting being dropped by caretaker boss Eric Black gave him the kick he needed.
He said: “They were much better performances from myself.
“Part of that is I have worked hard in the past couple of weeks making myself fitter and sharper.
“I found myself out of the team for a bit and that was maybe a blessing, it gave me a kick up the backside “It is not just about running around the pitch. I am talking about making sure you are eating right, making sure you are getting your rests and making sure you are giving yourself every chance to be right when the games come along.
“Rather than just turning up, having a banana and out we go, you have to slow down and think what you need, there are lots of little things involved when I say about getting yourself right.
“Sometimes it is a subconscious thing, you have so many games sometimes you think it is about ‘getting through training instead of training with that intensity. It is a fine balance at that level.
“For the last few years at Fulham we had such a settled way of playing my job was so easy and I was so comfortable in the way I played. Maybe I didn’t think too much about how I would have to adapt.
“I like to think I have turned a corner. We do feel the fans are with the manager and with us now and that is going to be a big advantage as the months go on.
“You can play as well as you want though, we have to win games and get up that table.
“We have to get the balance between playing well and winning matches.
“With the squad we have got there is no excuse.”