DANNY Murphy arrived at Blackburn Rovers amid a mass of media hype and supporter expectation.
He was the man Steve Kean said would be an integral part of Rovers’ Premier League return, who would control the midfield and dictate games.
Some questioned signing a 34-year-old on big wages but the majority saw what he did at Fulham last season and expected him to prove one of the signings of the summer.
Fast forward a couple of months and Murphy had become a villain in many fans’ eyes. A disappointing start to life at Ewood Park saw him axed from the side and subjected to jeers from the stands.
‘Stealing a living’ and ‘he doesn’t care’ were accusations unfairly thrown at him over the internet. There was no doubt he had performed poorly but to say it was through a lack of effort was ridiculous.
Murphy knows he still has a lot to prove but the last three games under Henning Berg have suggested Rovers could still get the player they thought they were signing.
Suddenly from only passing sideways and backwards at a painfully slow pace, Murphy has been further up the field, playing at a higher tempo and making some incisive passes.
During a long chat with the former England international last week it was obvious Murphy had been as frustrated as anyone about his form. Maybe he made the mistake of expecting the Champ-ionship to be easier than it was and maybe he had made the mistake of expecting to slot into the side with the ease he did at Fulham.
The first couple of months will have knocked any subconscious complacency out of his mind though and left him in no mistake about what is needed to be a success in this division.
Let’s not get carried away by three impressive performances in a row but you can’t help but be encour-aged by what we have seen since Berg has come in.
The style of play has allowed Murphy to get further forward and, with Ruben Rochina, pictured inset, always in space in front of him, he suddenly has someone him to pass to.
If Rovers are to get promoted this season they need an in-form Danny Murphy. If he plays well Rovers should play well, if he doesn’t, the team will struggle.
Murphy won’t be bothered by a bit of fan criticism, just as he won’t get carried away by having his praises sung in recent times.
He has not come to Ewood Park just to wind his career down. He has come here to help Rovers to promotion and to enjoy a Premier League swan-song next campaign.
Having spent a bit of time with him last week though anyone doub-ting his passion should think again.
Murphy cares about the future.