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Danny Murphy

Sir Tokyo Sexwale

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In 2004, Rafa Benitez sold Danny Murphy just after buying Xabi Alonso. He could - and probably will - do a lot worse than turn the wheel full circle. Murphy was actually replaced by Luis Garcia, bought around the same time, but his identity has changed so much since that he would be a perfect replacement for Alonso. He offers good defensive control through excellent positional sense, has ice in his veins and, most importantly, treats the ball with the utmost respect. Now, in his dotage, his qualities are more appreciated by the public, but he doesn't quite fall foul of the Denis Irwin rule: that if more than 40% of the population say you are underrated, you cannot be underrated. And for much of his career he was seriously undervalued, probably because his unobtrusive, Guardiola-lite game is of a more continental nature.


At one stage he was even booed by Liverpool's fans and, if he is now remembered with affection at Anfield, he does not have the legendary status that you might expect given his exploits against Manchester United. No other Liverpool player has scored a winning goal at Old Trafford since Craig Johnston in 1982*; Murphy did it three times. One of those came from the spot and, as well as the excellence in possession that was burned into him in Dario Gradi's Crewe laboratory, Murphy is arguably the finest and most certain penalty taker in this country since Matthew Le Tissier. Usually he strolls up and passes the ball high to the keeper's left into such a specific area that you could win a spot-the-ball competition every time. You may not always spot Murphy, but he's there, doing good work so that other people can get noticed. RS


* by this we mean the final goal in a single-goal win



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