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leeds sign luke murphy: one million pounds of optimism

leeds sign luke murphy: one million pounds of optimism


One million pounds! Luke Murphy’s is one transfer fee the club probably won’t want to leave undisclosed. Following this morning’s announcement of a new chairman and managing director, Leeds United is continuing to do its best impression of a proper football club by spending a substantial amount of money on someone who seems to be a very decent footballer.

Luke Murphy is 23 years old, a midfielder, captain of Crewe Alexandra, and the first player to join Leeds United for a seven figure fee since Richard Cresswell arrived for £1.1million in August 2005.

The world – the parts of the world that watch the Johnstones Paint Trophy, anyway – noticed Luke Murphy at the end of last season, when his spectacular effort from the edge of the box set Crewe on their way to victory over Southend at Wembley.

Beyond that, I don’t know much about Murphy apart from what you can see for yourself on Wikipedia – obviously the usual stuff about Crewe and the School of Dario Gradi needs to be thrown in, as Luke’s lineage puts him on a football family tree with the likes of David Platt and Danny Murphy, and, well, Geoff Thomas and Seth Johnson. But the signs are good: I like a midfielder who who is captain; I like a captain who came through the academy at his club; I like a player who can score like that at Wembley. Words like stature, composure and temperament come to mind: good, noble words.

At least Murphy will bring a touch of distinction to our midfield, in the sense that he will be distinguishable from the others. Brown was obvious as the fans’ bete noire and Austin was a lung-busting goliath, but I had great trouble last season telling the difference between Norris, Tonge and Green. Green has those piercing eyes and the Steve McQueen hair, I suppose, but as players it was almost impossible to tell them apart: like unbranded, off-the-shelf ‘Basic Midfielders.’ If Luke Murphy can stand apart from the mundane men we’re used to – and if McDermott makes them all keep the ball down and play – we should at last have a midfielder who stands out.

Yes, it would be getting carried away to mention Gary McAllister and Lee Bowyer, but there are happy parallels to be drawn: McAllister was our second ever million pound signing, but it has been so long since the last that today Murphy feels like the first; when Bowyer signed he was the most sought after teenage midfielder in England, and while it might be stretching things to call Luke Murphy that, he’s a player on the up. He also helps by increasing the number of first team midfielders at Leeds under thirty years of age to two.

McAllister and Bowyer arrived at pivotal times for the club. McAllister was a bold step forward from the Vinnie Jones-inspired promotion team, and a definite sign the club was putting the eighties behind. Bowyer’s arrival was more turbulent: Caspian’s takeover dragged through the summer of 1996, but when they finally signed, Bowyer, Nigel Martyn and Lee Sharpe were statements of intent from the new board. Leeds United today also has a new board looking to make their mark, and the sudden ability to spend over a million on what seems to be an actual good footballer is hopefully a sign of better football days ahead.

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