Bring back Glenn Murray - he deserves better than Watford limbo

Scott McCarthy, www.wearebrighton.com

Glenn Murray struggling for game time at Watford
Glenn Murray struggling for game time at Watford

There were 10 minutes left of Brighton 2-1 Blackpool when Neal Maupay found himself front and centre of the Seasiders’ goal, eight yards out with just Chris Maxwell to beat.

With 24 feet of net to aim at, Maupay managed to put his effort straight into the one-foot which Maxwell was occupying.

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www.wearebrighton.comThankfully, Maupay’s miss did not prove costly on this occasion. There have been plenty of times this season when Brighton’s inability to finish easy chances from inside the penalty area has been responsible for dropped points.

You cannot pin the blame on one single player either. Maupay has been there, Danny Welbeck has been there against Burnley, Aaron Connolly defied the laws of physics to put a free header both too high and too wide against Sheffield United from two yards out and minutes later, Alireza Jahanbakhsh headed against the frame of the goal from three yards away.

Meanwhile, an 83 mile hop up the A23, M23 and around the M25, Glenn Murray is currently being made to train alone by Watford. Whilst Brighton’s strikers struggle to put away the easiest of chances, the Albion own a centre forward who has made a career out of being clinical in front of goal and who they have abandoned in Hertfordshire.

Whether Murray could make a difference in the Premier League is up for debate. On the few occasions Graham Potter actually started him last season, he did okay – a goal at West Ham United, an assist at Southampton – and he has never been a player to rely on his pace.

Murray’s main attributes have always been knowing where to be at the right time and his finishing ability. They are not easily weathered by age.

There must be an acknowledgement though that Murray is 37-years-old. Potter has built a young and exciting squad and it is the likes of Maupay, Connolly and Andi Zeqiri who he should be focussing on developing and improving.

All are aged under 24 and all have shown enough potential to suggest that they can make it in the top flight – they are the future.

Even if Murray has no role to play in the Premier League, Brighton could do a lot worse than recall him from Watford and use him on the training pitch.

Who better to teach the Albion’s existing roster of strikers how to do things like score inside the box than a man who has 111 goals for Brighton to his name?

In the summer, Potter frequently described a new big-money striker as a “silver bullet.” He told the Fans’ Forum at the start of the season that he would rather improve Maupay, Connolly, Jahanbakhsh and Leandro Trossard than spend a huge amount on a new acquisition.

When you see those same players missing simple opportunities from within 12 yards of goal, the simple conclusion to reach for is that Potter’s coaching plan has not worked.

Maybe that should not come as a surprise; Potter himself was a left back in his playing days, assistant manager Billy Reid a defender or defensive midfielder and Bjorn Hamberg has never played, just coached.

It is too simplistic to say that Brighton’s young strikers struggle to take their chances because none of Potter’s coaching staff played as forwards. But there cannot be any doubt that those forwards could learn a huge amount from a player of Murray’s experience and knowledge – and that it would be a much better use of Murray’s time than training by himself at Watford.

There is one possible reason why Brighton may not wish to recall Murray - money. His status pre-Potter as one of the Albion’s most important players means that he will be on a fair wage and Watford picking up a proportion of that pay packet is probably very attractive at a time when football club’s finances are being hit particularly hard because of the pandemic.

If this is the reason however, it is a pretty shabby one. We are not talking about recalling a Jurgen Locadia from FC Cincinnati and picking up his £40,000 a week wages to save him from a disappointing loan. Locadia has done little in his Albion career to earn the club’s loyalty – unlike Murray.

This is a player who fired Brighton from League One to the Premier League. He then scored 36 percent of the Albion’s goals in their first two seasons in the top flight to keep them there.

No Brighton player has scored more goals than him since World War II and only Tommy Cook has more in the history of the club. Murray is as close to a legend as you can get and Brighton are willingly leaving him to rot in Hertfordshire.

He has six months left of his current playing contract. Would it really pain the club to repay him for everything he has done since arriving from Rochdale in 2008 by ending his Watford nightmare, bringing him home and using him to teach Brighton’s strikers how to score goals?

If it works out and Murray is interested in moving into coaching, Potter might have even stumbled across the new attacking coach he needs to improve the output of his forwards, as he is on record as saying he wants to do.

Murray’s days on the pitch as a Premier League player might be over – but he still has plenty to offer Brighton and their new generation of promising strikers.

Murray deserves better than to be left in limbo at Watford and a role as Brighton’s attacking coach would do just that.