Jamie Murphy has always preferred confronting opposition defences rather than the press.
But, after helping Nigel Clough’s side secure this potentially season defining result, the Sheffield United midfielder happily engaged with journalists as he sought to dispel some of the myths which have threatened to cast a shadow over his Bramall Lane career.
The former Scotland under-21 international, who together with compatriot Ryan Flynn terrorised Bristol City’s defence throughout, has been linked with a return north on an all too frequent basis since leaving Motherwell 13 months ago as rumours persisted he was struggling to adapt to English life.
However, despite acknowledging that the acclimatisation process “took longer than expected,” Murphy insisted his latest exhilarating exhibition of wing play is proof those whispers should now be regarded as things of the past.
“There are lots of reasons behind why I’m playing better now,” he said. “But the biggest is enjoyment and not worrying about stuff as much.
“I’m settled and Sheffield is my home now. Maybe at the start, when I first came in, I was a little bit here and there, back up the road too much to Glasgow all the time but that’s not the case now and it’s testament to the lads in the dressing room.
“It took longer than expected, longer than I thought, for me to get used to everything but it’s happened now and I feel at home. I don’t want to go back to Scotland after every game and so I can finally stop answering questions about being settled and stuff like that.”
Murphy, though, was not the only architect of a victory which lifted United to 17th in the table ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Colchester. Flynn, whose fifth goal of the season was sandwiched between John Brayford’s opener and a penalty from Jose Baxter, continued his rich vein of form while Stefan Scougall, a recent signing from Livington, was a constant threat. City, who drop back into the relegation zone, were described as “abysmal” by their manager Steve Cotterill. But they were never allowed to establish a foothold in the game as United seized control straight from kick-off.
“A happier player is a better player,” Murphy, who provided the pass for Flynn’s effort, said. “My mum, dad, family and girlfriend have all really helped me. I’m enjoying hanging out with the boys and this is a great place to be around.
“The manager has made a big difference too, so it’s testament to him and his staff. They don’t over-complicate anything, all they do is tell you to do the simple things right.
“We’re enouraged to be positive rather than flash. If you can run at your marker, then run at him. If there’s someone in a better position or you can put them through then just pass.”
Helping Murphy to fulfil his potential has been one of the success stories of Clough’s embryonic regime with the 24-year-old transformed from also-ran into perhaps the most influential member of United’s first team squad.
Defender turned coach Chris Morgan, appointed to the manager’s inner-circle following his arrival in October, acknowledged the players’ contribution to transforming United’s fortunes before reminding that, despite recording five consecutive wins for the first time since November 2012, they are not out of the woods yet.
“Everything boils down to hard work and that’s what we’ve got to keep on doing,” Morgan, deputising for Clough at the post-match media conference, said. “The manager was conscious that the lads have been going at it really hard. We knew we had to change it up.
“To be fair to the gaffer since he’s come in, whatever formation we’ve played - whichever players we’ve used - he’s hammered across to them what he wants.
“The players have took that on and been excellent, so the ones that come in know exactly what’s wanted.”
“We don’t want this confidence to spill over into complacency because as we keep telling the players we are still down there and still need to fight to steer clear of the bottom four,” Morgan added. “That message will be emphasised ahead of Colchester on Tuesday night.”
United achieved the desired outcome with a minimum of fuss. Having seen Wade Elliott fire well wide during the early skirmishes, Aden Flint was forced to hack clear after Murphy forced Simon Moore into a mistake before Flynn sent an angled drive just the wrong side of City’s far post.
Harry Maguire, making his 151st senior appearance, embarked on a cavalier dash forward which ended with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, still City’s leading goalscorer despite failing to find the net in 2014, bravely blocking the centre-half’s close-range shot.
Brayford, who like Moore is on loan from Cardiff City, turned home just before the interval after Maguire had helped on Baxter’s corner before Flynn doubled United’s advantage with a clinical finish after Murphy had darted beyond Karleigh Osborne.
The hapless City defender found himself in the spotlight again when his trip on Flynn presented Baxter with the opportunity to convert from the penalty spot. Mark Howard, who has kept four clean sheets since being recalled for United’s FA Cup replay at Fulham five outings ago, denied Sam Baldock with a fine reflex block during the closing stages but did not have a save of note to make until Adam El-Abd’s attempt six minutes from time.
City entered Saturday’s contest knowing that only one team outside the division’s top six had scored more goals this term but the ease with which United, whose rearguard has now been breached just once in over eight hours of football, kept them at bay prompted a furious reaction from Cotterill.
Murphy, however, insisted they could have no complaints.
“Potentially, this is a crucial win because they are down near the bottom with us,” he said. “To get it feels great but the manner in which it was achieved feels even better.
“It felt right from the start like there was only ever going to be one winner and we could have had a couple more goals. Hopefully, what we can do now, is get as high up the table as we can and then establish a platform for next season.”