Body strength and box-to-box energy: Adam Murphy’s impressive first steps for Bristol City

At the risk of falling into lazy and obvious stereotyping, from 1996 until the mid-2000s, the advertising slogan for a certain famous brand of Irish stout was “good things come to those who wait.” As Brian Tinnion sat in the lower section of the Dolman Stand, with Ashton Gate bathed in pleasant sunshine, watching Adam Murphy burst forward after pirouetted into space inside his own half, Bristol City’s technical director and he no doubt offered a warm smile considering how long. was to get to this point.

Murphy’s journey from Ireland to the green grass at BS3 has been a tortuous one with the transfer collapsing last summer due to fitness concerns and then, after securing his signature at the start of January, the 18-year-old was forced to do a pre-season almost on his own, coupled with some injuries that delayed his entry even more.

The lower level of the Lansdown Stand was sparsely populated, to say the least, on Tuesday afternoon for City’s penultimate Premier League game of the season, but it was still a big time for everyone at the club and, most importantly, for Murphy himself as he came on in the 63rd minute for Dylan Kadji.

Tinnion revealed 10 days ago that the teenager will be involved in these final games of the season, with Fleetwood Town set to visit next Tuesday, and the Republic of Ireland international will be brought back into action as he was named among the substitutes.

In what proved to be an open end-to-end encounter, as was the case in the previous two games, Murphy took his place at the base of midfield in a 4-2-3-1 alongside Tommy Backwell .

Ruggedly fit but with acceleration and athleticism, he joined the game to a teammate’s shout of “go on Murph” before taking to midfield with the score reading 2-2 as Ryan Huke had just equalized for the Addicks.

As City built from the back he quickly dropped into a deep pocket to try and secure early possession but was parried and his first touch proved a tackle and a demonstration of a part of his game .

Using his body to get between the man and the ball, it looked like a simple challenge for him to win, but he brushed aside the man in the navy with consummate ease to set him moving again.

That upper body strength was evident throughout the roughly 27 minutes he was on the court and the way he dropped his shoulders and protected the ball meant that whenever he was shut down, he didn’t seem to never lose possession.

In the build-up to Toure’s own goal, it was a loose ball in midfield that Murphy pounced on quickly, keeping his mark before sending a pass up for the decisive third.

There were plenty of voices as he constantly communicated with Backwell about who should be further forward or deeper, with instructions on throws and in the game about who should press and who should block space. So did Yeboah, who had taken his place at number 10.

If there were any doubts about his confidence, then his decision to neglect Raph Araoye to his left and attempt a left-footed effort from around 40 yards, which was blocked despite being slightly off, showed a certain sense of self-confidence.

But that should by no means indicate an individual playing for himself as he was constantly tracking back, protecting the defense and looking to make recovery tackles. Even on one occasion when he was slightly out-and-out, he stuck to Pat Casey all the way, with the Charlton striker eventually thwarted on the edge of the box.

It was from that area of ​​the pitch that he had launched before, for what proved the obvious climax of his involvement. Taking a pass into midfield, he was quickly closed down but got his body in the way, turned quickly and then burst through the centre.

Further advancing into the Charlton area, he then flicked a ball outside the boot into the step of Thomas, but a covering defender was just in time to deny the City striker a clean attempt on goal.

With City slightly blocked on the touchline from a throw-in, Murphy took control, running to Leeson and beckoning him to take the ball full force and fire a low volley into the chest of Thomas up the line.

But if there was one moment that perhaps encapsulated what the Irishman is, it was in the closing stages when Thomas found space just outside the penalty area as City tried to create a fifth goal.

Murphy came into the area and demanded the ball, Thomas ignored him and the move broke down with Backwell then tackled as he tried to recycle possession. Charlton countered but City’s number 15 sprinted back to cover the space, putting a toe in to guide the ball back into defence. Box after box in the blink of an eye.

These are just baby steps and next Tuesday’s game against Fleetwood Town will provide another test as Murphy will surely be in line to start, before he then prepares to try and impress Liam Manning in pre-season . But the promising early signs, after such a wait, were undeniable.

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