Danny Murphy answers YOUR questions in weekly Sportsmail column

DANNY MURPHY Q&A: How to fix time-wasting in football, a header that was as good as winning a trophy and why things didn’t quite work out for me at Tottenham

  • Danny Murphy answers your questions as part of a weekly Sportsmail column
  • The former Liverpool and Tottenham man discusses why teams park the bus
  • Murphy also recalls his time at Fulham and THAT relegation-saving goal in 2008
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

With football postponed for a the foreseeable future we’re carrying on from last week’s column where I respond to any questions you need answering about the modern game.

Like last week, lots of you sent questions in and thank you to those of you who made the effort over to do so. I couldn’t answer all of them but I tried to cover as many pertinent topics as I could. 

I’ve answered questions on everything from why teams park the bus in our game, solutions to time-wasting and diving in football and scoring that all-important goal to keep Fulham in the Premier League in 2008.

Ex-midfielder Danny Murphy answers questions from fans in a weekly Sportsmail column

Following last week’s discussion about how far players run during matches, if a professional footballer took 90 minutes to complete a 10 kilometer race, they’d finish last!

Mick Grayson, Cambs, Arsenal fan

Premier League players can run between 12 and 13 kilometers in each and every game 

I’ve spoken to people in the game and been assured the GPS statistics are accurate. Players can cover 12 or 13 kilometers (more than the length of the pitch every 60 seconds) because of the regular movement – walking, jogging, sprinting – rather than long-distance running. 

Another reader pointed out that if you just walked for 90minutes, you’d reach 7.5 kilometers. I have to be honest though, the figures that really count in my book are goals, assists and tackles!

Premier League players are being asked to reduce their incomes during coronavirus but I don’t see the same rules for industrialists? The money footballers earn is for their rest of their lives…

W Hill

Premier League players have a responsibility to help their communities during times like these

Players have responsibility because football clubs are important for their communities. I think they are helping out, we’ve seen that with the Players’ Together fund. 

It’s nice to see wealthier people in any industry help those that need it. The problem arises when they are being dictated to.

As a Fulham supporter for 65 years with memories of Johnny Haynes and Alan Mullery, I thought you were also a very good leader for us and wondered if you’d ever thought of going into coaching or management?

Mike Busby, Birchington

Going into coaching was a possibility when I retired, but I’ve really enjoyed my time as a pundit

It was a possibility after retirement, particularly at Fulham, but professional careers are often about timing and opportunity. Television and media work came in, coaching didn’t quite happen, and I’ve really enjoyed my new life.

Enjoyed your George Best-Lionel Messi comparison last week. George had everything – a great athlete as well as talented. I managed a bookies in Manchester, he once rang on a Saturday afternoon to put on a tenner: ‘It’s half-time so I’ve just nipped out. I told the boss I was going to the loo!’

I asked the score and he replied ‘we’re winning 2-0, I’ve managed to pop one in!’ Can’t imagine that happening now?

Geoff Booth, Manchester United fan from Stockport

One reader told me George Best rang him up to place a bet on – it happened in my day too!

It went on a bit longer than you think, Geoff. We had players at Crewe and Liverpool who’d check on the racing results or place a cheeky bet. I’ll leave you to guess which ones!

I’ve always wondered why teams park the bus away from home. Why not come out attacking regardless of where the game is being played?

Adrian Lewis, Wolves fan, Barnet

Parking the bus against top teams is still happening – but home advantage is now less common

In unfamiliar surroundings, part of you goes into protective mode and fight to keep what you have. At home, you park the car in its normal spot, chat to your favourite steward, everything feels comfortable and that helps positivity. It has a practical advantage on the pitch as well. I could hit a long diagonal pass instinctively instead of having to gauge distance.

The differences between home and away are growing less. Most away stadiums are more comfortable and crowd noise less intimidating. You couldn’t take a corner at the old Highbury without fans being able to grab you. The best teams can win wherever but home advantage is still a factor for most sides.

Why do footballers say ‘obviously’ and ‘them games’ in interviews?

Jim Ryan, Manchester

Players like Wayne Rooney (left) and David Beckham (right) have their own go-to phrases

It’d be hard for any young person, no matter how knowledgeable, to appear articulate with a camera or microphone thrust at them. Also bear in mind footballers would have left school early to pursue their career. Using cliches is a good way of giving yourself time to answer the question.

Players are better trained for media these days but it must still be nerve-wracking. David Beckham used to say ‘you know’ a lot, Wayne Rooney ‘as I said’. But they get ironed out over time. Point a video phone at a friend and ask them to answer coherently and concisely. It’s not that easy.

Why does football lag behind other sports in time-keeping? Fans are denied value for money when the ball is out of play and there are regular arguments about the length of injury time. A stadium stop-clock would solve it. An FA Committee member told me it couldn’t be introduced because a lot of added time would disrupt travel arrangements for away fans.

Reg Dove, Southwell, Nottingham Forest director 1993-2005

Referees need to clamp down on timewasting but we shouldn’t change the length of games 

I don’t want to see a clock keeping time. Football has been a great game for nearly 150 years and we’re getting too much tinkering already. If the ball had to be in play for 90 minutes, it could nearly the double the length of matches and cause fundamental change.

But I do agree that referees should clamp down on time-wasting so that you get the right amount of added time. Mark Hughes used to get me over the far side of the pitch and substitute me to slow the game down if we were winning. I’d stop to applaud the crowd, stop to shake the referee’s hand. I should have been booked really!

I once saw a discussion on Saint and Greavsie on whether defending teams would be better not building a wall at a free-kick. I was an amateur goalkeeper keeper and would have backed myself I against anyone from 25 yards with a clear line of vision…

Rob, Rotherham

Players can hit the top corner easily from 25 yards now – so building a free-kick wall is crucial

With due respect, the ability of the top players to strike and swerve the modern ball means you wouldn’t bet against them scoring from 25 yards, even though a lot of goalies would agree with you! Teams build walls to help the goalkeeper keep the ball out. And if we didn’t stand in a line, there’s no reason the attacking team couldn’t do it themselves to block the ‘keeper’s view.

Another reader asked me about keeping defenders on the post at free-kicks. It could be useful in a one-off against a particularly dangerous taker but if a team did it regularly, it means the attacking side could flood the six-yard box because there would be no offside. I remember Charlton putting a player on the left post against Thierry Henry, he just smashed it over Dean Kiely into the top-right!

Is there a case for capping players’ salaries at £100,000 a week? It’s food for thought in these current times. I know people say football is a short career but so are many other jobs, like soldiers….

Steve Wynn

Should Premier League salaries be capped at £100,000-a-week? I’m not so sure…

A lot of these kind of discussions are taking place given the new set of circumstances we all find ourselves in. I’m not sure how it’s practical or fair. You aren’t going to stop television companies outbidding each other for live rights. So if clubs receive the revenues, the money has to go somewhere. At the moment, a lot of it goes to the players, but if they were capped, it would still go to someone else and we’d be punishing the people who make the entertainment.

We also live in a global marketplace. If top players could earn £200,000-a-week at big European clubs but only £100,000-a-week in England, would he not leave, and diminish our Premier League?

Your ‘rare header’ for Fulham against Portsmouth kept us up in 2008. Do you remember it?

David Morgan, Staines, Fulham supporter

The goal to keep Fulham up in the Premier League in 2008 was as good as winning any trophy

It was as satisfying as winning trophies because of how much it meant to everyone. People might have lost their jobs if we’d been relegated. It had been a traumatic week for me in the build-up because my baby daughter had been rushed to hospital. She’d begun to improve in time for me to play. With 14 minutes left, we needed a goal so I got into the box and Jimmy Bullard’s cross was so good, I just let it hit me and go in. I only scored about six headers in my whole career.

It was a real sliding doors moment because instead of dropping into The Championship, we really blossomed over the next couple of years under Roy Hodgson and reached the Europa League Final.

I’m concerned about the diving, feigning injury, time-wasting and abuse of match officials in football. Brian Clough wouldn’t have stood for it among his own players at Nottingham Forest. Are sin bins a possible answer?

Bill Stratford, Nottingham Forest fan, Sandbach

Players who dive both inside and outside the penalty area should be punished 

It is interesting to hear what you say about Cloughie. I was also brought up to respect the rules as a young player and I do wish more managers would take the lead on this with their own players.

I’m not a fan of the sin bin idea. It’s another complication. But I don’t see why stronger retrospective action should be taken against people who cheat. There was a video review panel at one time to sort out diving (I was involved in it) but that seems to have fallen off the radar. To clean up the game properly, don’t just look at players who dived to win penalties, get the ones who do it in the centre circle as well.

Danny, what was your fondest memory of playing at White Hart Lane? Do you think Jose Mourinho is the man to take the club forward?

Mick Clay, Spurs fan

Scoring against Portsmouth at White Hart Lane was a highlight from by time at Spurs 

I regret my time at Spurs wasn’t better. It was a great club but my Dad was ill at the time and it didn’t happen the way I like. My highlight has to be scoring against Portsmouth at White Hart Lane, though I also remember David James making a brilliant save to stop me getting a second.

Jose has won trophies at every club he’s managed so I think he will lift silverware for Tottenham. I hope so for their sake. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Did any of your former team-mates when you started at Crewe go on to make it?

Chris Loftus, Wycombe

Robbie Savage came through the ranks with me at Crewe and went on to have a great career

A few. The best was probably Neil Lennon who was amazing to play alongside, he really guided me as a young player. Robbie Savage had great energy and was technically good, better than his reputation. Seth Johnson, Dele Adebola and Mark Rivers got good moves. 

Seth played for Derby and Leeds in the Premier League but should have done even more. He was coming through when I went back to Crewe on loan from Liverpool and he was excellent.

I’ve been a Liverpool fan since 1965. I have a terrible feeling this season will be voided and we won’t get the pleasure of being champions again. What do you think should happen?

John Bower

The season should be finished so Liverpool should win the league this year – and next year too

The season should be finished, not just for Liverpool’s sake but so every issue can be resolved on the pitch. Even if we can’t resume playing until August, it can still be done with the right cuts to the 2020/21 season, which I think Liverpool will also win.

Is it ever awkward seeing someone you’ve criticised on television?

Simon Holmes

I always try to be honest during punditry – but some people get annoyed if I criticise them

Not usually. I try to speak honestly on what I’ve seen and not get personal. I think most players and managers understand that.

A few have had the hump. Towards the end of my career I made comments about Sam Allardyce and Mick McCarthy, at a conference rather than on TV, thatthey felt made them look bad. Mick had it out with me in his office. Sam wanted my number but my manager at the time Mark Hughes wouldn’t give it to him!

Sometimes I’ve criticised a performance on TV and happened to bump into the player shortly afterwards. It happened with Jordan Pickford but nothing was said. 

Fulham’s Sascha Riether is the only player to have got in touch after I’d had a go. I’d been disgusted with him swapping shirts after a game at Manchester United in which he’d stamped on Adnan Januzaj.


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