Murray commands respect for everything he has achieved at Brighton & Hove Albion - Scott McCarthy

Judging by some of the social media reaction to Glenn Murray’s performance against Huddersfield Town on Saturday, you could have been forgiven for thinking he had just been revealed as the man who shot JFK, stole Shergar and beat One Direction to win X Factor in 2010.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 2:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 11:40 am
Glenn Murray on the run against Huddersfield. Picture by PW Sporting Photography

The outpouring of vitriol towards a man who has scored more goals than any other for Brighton and Hove Albion since World War II was completely over-the-top. There were genuine calls for him to retire, not play again or be released come the end of the season. Frankly, it was madness.

There’s no doubting that Murray didn’t have his best game against the Terriers, but that is hardly his fault. It was a match that wasn’t set up to play to his strengths at all. From almost the first whistle, it was obvious that the visitors defence was slower than a rubbish truck driving up Mount Everest with the handbrake half on.

That meant that the clear way to punish them was going to be with pace, something Murray isn’t exactly blessed with. When he first rocked up at Withdean as a fresh-faced 23-year-old some 12 years ago, speed wasn’t one of his attributes. Now he’s approaching a pensioner’s age in footballing terms, you’d put it bottom of the list of things he brings to the Brighton party.

Credit to Chris Hughton then for introducing Florin Andone much earlier than his traditional first-substitution-on-70-minutes ploy normally allows. Andone brought pace and a bustling presence to the Albion front line in the 35 minutes or so he was on and that is ultimately what won Brighton a first three points of 2019.

Against a defence like the Terriers, Andone is arguably the better option to be starting. But not every defence is as terrible or pedestrian as Huddersfield’s and when the Seagulls come up against a different calibre of opposition and they need experience and a hold up man, then Murray offers more than Andone.

That’s the point that those who want to see Murray’s Brighton career come to an unceremonious end are missing. There are different horses for different courses and Andone and Murray are both different horses who will have different effects in different games against different defences.

It’s also hugely disrespectful to a man who has scored a total of goals in the stripes that we’re very unlikely to see matched anytime soon, possibly ever. Some people have extremely short memories. Without Murray’s goals we wouldn’t have won promotion out of the Championship, we wouldn’t have stayed in the Premier League last season and we could be as many as 12 points worse off in this campaign as well as potentially out of the FA Cup.

The debate will now focus on who should lead the line away at Crystal Palace and it seems likely that Andone would be the popular choice. But you cannot discount Murray’s remarkable record for scoring against his former sides.

We’ve been on the receiving end of it during his time in Palace and Reading colours and the Eagles themselves know all about it with Murray having netted in his past three games against them.

There are question marks still over Andone’s temperament and his penchant for picking up silly cards. His recent suspension was completely avoidable had he not decided to momentarily try his luck as a WWE wrestler by elbowing a West Bromwich Albion player in the head. On Saturday, he got booked for diving into the crowd when celebrating his goal.

For those two reasons, you can make a very strong case for Murray to start at Selhurst Park. Either way, it’s a nice dilemma for Hughton to have and a far cry from a fortnight ago when Jurgen Locadia was his only fit-and-available striker.

Whoever Hughton picks deserves the support of the Albion faithful but especially so if it is Murray. He commands respect for everything he has achieved as one of the greatest Brighton strikers of all time, so just remember that next time you want to rant and rave about him.

He didn’t kill JFK, after all.

HAVE YOU READ?