Leeds United: Fans are often just too quick to judge - Ritchie

Luke Murphy

Luke Murphy

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I’ve often felt that football – and when I say football, I guess I’m talking about supporters – is too quick to judge players.

The game wants instant hits and I suppose that’s no surprise in an era where clubs sack managers at the drop of a hat.

But thinking in such a way runs the risk of turfing out good footballers before they’ve had a chance to impress.

I was quite lucky in my career. When I went to Brighton I finished as top scorer in my first season and the same was true at Leeds United.

I say lucky; obviously I must have been doing something right, but every striker has barren spells and it was good for me that the goals came at a time when I was trying to make my mark at a new club.

If I’d been poor from the outset, would people have judged me more harshly and more quickly?

I think they probably would have.

So the footballer in me felt sympathy for guys like Luke Murphy and Steve Morison.

I’m chuffed that both of them are finally starting to make their mark at Leeds.

They’re two players I’ve championed for quite a while. They’ve got plenty to offer in the Championship and it’s a shame that it’s taken so long for their faces to fit.

Morison really needs a goal at the moment but only because it’s what his performances deserve.

He’s playing well and he’s doing what he used to do all the time at Millwall – running the channels, producing the knockdowns, holding up possession.

I rated him at Millwall and in that period he looked like a striker who would benefit a lot of teams in this division.

In the end Norwich City gave him a go up in the Premier League.

It stands to reason that if Morison’s done it before at this level and beyond, then he can do it again.

He’s obviously a strong character and a strong personality but that sort of mentality is what Leeds need at the moment.

It’s a bit of a siege at Elland Road just now – less so, it has to be said, after Tuesday’s brilliant win over Bournemouth – and he’s got the grit and nastiness the club have been looking for.

I also think he suits a 4-2-3-1 formation perfectly.

As for Murphy, I’m not shocked by his recent resurgence at all.

The only surprise for me is that he’s back in the team in the first place, because from what I was hearing and reading, it did sound like his time at Leeds might be over.

They were obviously ready to let him go on loan in the last emergency window and I don’t imagine that he was expecting his chance to come again.

Personally, I think Murphy is a superb player. His range of passing is excellent and he’s someone who can set a bit of a rhythm to the play.

His confidence has probably suffered in the time he’s been here but the last few games have reminded him that he’s got no shortage of talent in him – not to mention goals.

He came to Leeds as a £1m signing and if truth be told, he’s suffered because of it.

You might ask what £1m is by today’s standards of expenditure but Leeds rarely spend that amount of cash on anyone. Not anymore. Murphy was a big investment and that causes immediate expectation.

It isn’t the case that players beat themselves up about the size of their price tag. As the saying goes, you’re worth what someone will pay for you.

The problem is that people looking on want immediate results. If you’re coming in at a cost of £1m then you’d better hit the ground running. If you don’t, it won’t be long before a few fans start saying ‘what a waste of money’.

Murphy will know the general feeling on the terraces but I’ll say this – he’s no coward.

Whenever I watch him he goes looking for the ball and he tries to work the ball.

He doesn’t hide. And he’s clearly got a great attitude too.

Some players in his circumstances would have looked at the chance he got in the FA Cup at Sunderland and said ‘no thanks’.

Some players would have thrown their toys out the pram, downed tools and decided that it wasn’t their job to help dig Leeds out of the trouble they were in. It’s a bad way to think but that’s sometimes how it goes. Don’t forget that Murphy had been completely overlooked for months.

But to see him come back the way he has tells me there’s a quality footballer there and a quality professional.

He deserves the attention he’s getting.

Chris Wood celebrates his opening goal.
 Picture: Bruce Rollinson

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