LUKE MURPHY says that the first impressions made by new Leeds United head coach Dave Hockaday have been favourable ones.
Hockaday got to work with his United charges at Thorp Arch on Thursday morning, although some players, including Murphy, had popped in the previous day for a light session to prepare themselves for the beginning of pre-season in earnest.
When it got underway, the real stuff was undeniably tough, according to Murphy, but fully expected with Hockaday coming across well with the vibes boding well for the future.
And while Murphy admits he did not know much about the 56-year-old former Forest Green Rovers manager when he was handed the head coaching position, he insists he has no preconceptions, with it all being about impressing the new ‘gaffer’ and not about his name.
The former Crewe captain, brought in for £1m by former boss Brian McDermott 12 months ago, said: “I came in on Wednesday and met him and he seemed a really nice bloke and carried that onto the field in training.
“What he was saying football-wise and manager-wise was really positive.
“I was really impressed with the things that he was saying and things he is looking to do in the future, it sounds bright.
“I’d say it was a hard first day, to be fair. We got put through our paces, but it is nothing we did not expect.”
On Hockaday’s appointment, he added: “I can’t say that I had (heard of him), to be honest. But obviously, I am sure he hadn’t heard of me either, so I am sure we are both starting from a clean slate.
“I am really looking forward to working under him.
“Obviously, I was quite disappointed Brian McDermott left.
“He gave me my chance at this level and I will always be thankful for that and wish him all the best.
“I have realised over the past few years that football is a ruthless, cut-throat game.
“But this is a new challenge and I am really looking forward to working under the new management staff.”
With a season of Championship football under his belt and some good and bad experiences to call upon, Murphy is confident United fans will see a more rounded, consistent and honed player in the campaign ahead.
The midfielder, who signed off in 2013-14 with some encouraging displays after decidedly mixed form before that, is sure he can push on in his second year in West Yorkshire, having struggled to justify the outlay paid out on him for parts of last term.
Murphy, 24, who became the expensive signing for almost eight years at United when he joined last summer, added: “Last season was about getting to grips with the Championship and the pace of the game and this season, I have one under my belt here and am used to a few more things.
“This season, I am looking to push on and have a bit more of an impact in the games and score a few more goals.
“It took quite a while to settle, but I obviously know the lads a lot more this season and feel a lot more confident and I think that will leave me in good stead for the start of the new season.”
Murphy and his team-mates will head off to Italy for a two-week training camp on Monday in the Santa Cristina region of Val Gardena and he feels that the time away with enable players and staff to build bonds and working relationships for the season ahead.
“It’s always important to get away with the squad and coaching staff, especially when they are new.
“It gives them and us a good chance to get to know each other and mix and if we have any good signings, it’s always good for them. I am looking forward to it.”