DANNY MURPHY: Hitting winners against Manchester United, George Best v Lionel Messi and why I could’ve been a hotshot lawyer in another life
- Danny Murphy sat down to answer your questions as part of a new-look column
- Murphy reveals why he believes goal bonuses cause players to become selfish
- The former Liverpool man explains the importance of agents to footballers
With football postponed for a the foreseeable future we’ve decided to do things a little differently and let you ask me a few questions about my career and thoughts on the modern game.
Lots of you sent questions in and thank you to those of you who made the effort over the last week. I can’t answer all of them but I read them all and was impressed with the range of questions.
I’ve answered questions on everything from a solution to completing the current season, the importance of footballers having agents and the career I may have had had I not become a footballer…
Danny Murphy sat down to answer your questions on a range of football topics for Sportsmail
An idea for resolving the fixture pile-up without discounting results from this season. Why not go into a new season in September but include points already won?
There is no perfect solution but I’d like to make things as uncomplicated as possible. Another reader suggested limiting games to 30 minutes per half to get through the current league season but I’d finish it no matter how long it takes, even if it’s behind closed doors.
After that, begin a completely separate new season. If the games have to be condensed, abandon all cup competitions so the domestic leagues can operate as normal, 90-minute matches home and away. Merging two seasons isn’t for me.
The Premier League season should be finished even if it means playing games without fans
Can you explain why they need overpaid agents to promote such fine athletes? How can they earn more than a doctor or surgeon?
Footballers need somebody in their corner negotiating contracts or transfers whether an agent, lawyer or family member. You need someone who understands football and has your best interests at heart.
I benefited from having an agent from the age of 22 and they stayed with me for the rest of my career and never pushed me into anything. Like any industry, there is some greed involved but I don’t think the agents people hear about are always representative.
Clubs also have a part to play. If an agent is demanding an obscene fee, it’s up to them to walk away from the deal even if it means finding another player. The player with the bad agent won’t want to keep him for long after that.
Footballers need agents to negotiate contracts but bad agents can prove to be troublesome
How can a striker get their own bonus for scoring in a team game. Shelf-stackers don’t get a personal bonus for stacking shelves. Also, with a name like Murphy, why didn’t you play for Ireland?
Tony Murphy (no relation!)
I share your sentiment about goal bonuses. I don’t think they should exist. You shouldn’t need to be incentivised to score goals. It causes selfishness at times depending on the level and wealth of the player.
There is nothing wrong with team bonuses for winning, or a player getting a bonus for starting games. It will make him hungrier to keep his place. But more than one player can help in a goal, to reward only the scorer sends out the wrong message. Keep bonuses collective.
As for the Republic of Ireland, by the time I learned I would’ve been eligible because my dad was born in Cork, I’d already played for England youth in a competitive international and the rules at that time wouldn’t have allowed me to switch. I was always set on an England career anyway, though looking back I probably would have won more caps with Ireland. Imagine me playing in midfield alongside Roy Keane.
Goal bonuses make strikers selfish and only rewarding goalscorers sends out wrong message
It’s my belief George Best would have been on a par with Lionel Messi if they both played today. It’s subjective but what is your opinion?
I’m too young to have seen Best live but my dad, who has watched a great deal of football, said he was the greatest — even after Diego Maradona burst on the scene. My dad is not one to praise lightly, so I believe Best could have been ranked with today’s greats.
He didn’t stay at the top long enough but would have had the benefits of the modern game; better pitches, training regimes, protection from referees and help off the field when he hit problems.
George Best could have been ranked alongside today’s great footballers like Lionel Messi (L)
Did you feel pushed out of Liverpool in 2004 or did you want to leave?
A I did leave early but felt I didn’t have any choice. Rafa Benitez made it clear to me twice I wasn’t part of his plans. I could have refused to go and waited for injuries and suspensions to get my chance but I just wanted to play.
I’m grateful to have been at Liverpool seven years — one game would have been enough — but do I wish I’d given it a bit longer? Yes. Anyone who says they have no regrets is not totally honest.
I was at Old Trafford for two of the three winners you scored there. Which was your favourite?
The most important one was the little chip over Fabien Barthez in 2002. I’d been booed off in our previous game against Southampton, Steven Gerrard had backed me and Phil Thompson, who was our interim manager with Gerard Houllier recovering from a heart operation, started me for the United game. To put everything right by scoring the winner was enormous. I remember going to our five thousand fans at the end to celebrate with Stevie G and Thommo.
Leaving Liverpool in 2004 was a tough decision but I’d had seven great years at Anfield
It often comes up that players have run 10km or more in a game. That would add up to 100m every minute — it doesn’t ring true to me. It’s nearly running from one end of the pitch to the other every 60 seconds.
A It is a fascinating question. I’ve never doubted the science before. Prozone used to tell me I’d run about 11km every game and I accepted it. But when you put it like that, 100m every minute, it’s made me think. There must be an explanation but I don’t know it. I’m going to look into it!
It drives me crazy when teams concede goals because they haven’t got anyone defending the post at corners. As a former pro and academy coach, nobody has every given me a positive explanation why it happens.
Steve Ludlam (ex-Sheffield United, Carlisle and Chester)
A It is a bugbear of mine. I used to be the man on the far post at Fulham and used to clear four or five off the line every season.
I suspect teams don’t do it because they think too much about springing counter-attacks from a corner. But the No1 job defending a set-piece should be protecting your goal. Having a man on the far post is essential.
I’ve got happy memories of scoring some important goals against Man United at Old Trafford
If there is one team who can emerge like Blackburn did in the Nineties and become title contenders, who is it?
A No one saw Leicester City’s title win coming and it’s nice to see the Big Six being put under threat. Wolves have the financial backing, history, some wonderful players and a top-class manager in Nuno Espirito Santo. They have progressed steadily which suggests they aren’t a flash in the pan.
The big thing for them is to keep their manager. If they can, I see no reason why they can’t get into the Champions League and in two or three years, who knows?
Wolves could surprise English football and challenge for the title if they continue their rise
Why do teams so often change their strip for away games when there is no clash of colours? I support Norwich, the only Premier League team we clash with are Watford.
It is a marketing ploy. If a club produces three different kits and sells them, the team have to play in them. Usually it’s drawn up before the start of the season which kits will be used for which games. I once asked why we wore a green kit for Fulham at Wigan when our away strip would have done. It clashed with the grass!
I appreciated you as a player despite being a Man United fan! If you hadn’t made it as a footballer what would you have liked to do?
I used to be argumentative — still am a bit! — and thought I might make a good lawyer, one like Matthew McConaughey played in the film A Time to Kill. I’m not sure I would have got through law school, though, so probably just as well my mind was made up pretty early to try and be a footballer.
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