How Garry Monk has changed Jacob Murphy's mentality and why the Sheffield Wednesday star uses Raheem Stering and Sadio Mané for inspiration
It’s fair to say Sheffield Wednesday’s on-loan winger Jacob Murphy is not short of praise for Garry Monk and credits the manager for playing a crucial role in helping him to regain his confidence and change his mentality.
The 25-year-old Wembley-born star, who is on a season-long loan from Newcastle United, was one of the few shining lights for Monk’s struggling side before the season was suspended on Friday because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Murphy had been a regular in recent weeks and, after a slow start in an Owls shirt, picked up the club’s player of the month award for February.
But before the enforced break, Murphy spoke eloquently and candidly about the role Monk has played in helping him to become a better player – physically and mentally.
He also revealed how he looks up to Premier League legends Raheem Sterling, of Manchester City and England, and Liverpool’s Sadio Mané as he goes about learning his craft and fine-tuning his game.
“I have been working on aggression, getting my confidence back, these are things I have really been working on this season,” said Murphy.
“Credit to Garry Monk, he has changed my mentality, he has helped me a lot.
“When we have meetings, he sends powerful messages, and they have sunk in.
“He gets me to see things from a different perspective.”
Murphy’s glowing praise for the 41-year-old is set against a backdrop of stinging criticism for the Owls boss from some sections of the Hillsborough fan base.
Monk had overseen a wretched run since Christmas which had seen Wednesday lose nine of their last 14 matches before the suspension.
But for the former Norwich City star, Monk has become a huge influence as he’s looked to rebuild his confidence and become more than a bit-part player at St James Park.
“It might not work with some people, but for me I have noticed it click, and I have thought ‘I understand what he means there’,” said Murphy.
“From him being here it has given me more of a hunger and fire in the belly.
“Every day I just want to work, work, work, I am starving to succeed.
“One of the main things I wanted to get out of myself this season was to regain confidence, be more ruthless in my attacking.
“I think the gaffer has helped me get to where I needed to be with my own self-belief and stuff.
“We have had few chats and he has been a massive help to get me to this level, so I can show it on the pitch.”
On the pitch, Murphy has scored five goals and provided two assists in 30 appearances for the Owls and the winger, himself, admits to being someone who spends a lot of time analysing his own game.
“I do a lot of match analysis, away from the club, on my own game,” he said.
“Looking at how I can have more of an influence on games.
“I have done that from that start of the season.
“When you analyse your game in more detail you see more options, and that presents you with more opportunities on match days, which has helped going into games.
“Maybe in the modern game, maybe we don’t analyse our own performances as much, usually it’s a collective thing.
“If I analyse my game harder, can I give my team-mates more of an option off the ball.
“And when I am on the ball can I get my head up and find a different opportunity or different route to goal.
“It makes you think more, and understand the game more.
“I look at a lot of wingers, Sterling is probably one I look at a lot because of his movements.
“Mane, as well, his in and out movements off the ball are key for my learning.”
The football suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak may have brought a halt to his Wednesday career for now, but Murphy says he hopes this season will act as a springboard to better things in the future.
“I want to regain that confidence and get back to that old Jacob Murphy, which did really well at Norwich, to get a move to the Premier League,” he said.
“That’s the kind of form I wanted to get back to. I feel from this loan, so far, I have achieved that, but I want more.”
As for Monk, well the manager, himself, has been impressed with how the winger has improved his game during his time at Hillsborough – saying he’s a ‘joy to work with’.
“I think he’s improved a lot,” said Monk.
“Coming in here and speaking to him and seeing him in the first couple of weeks and games, there were certain things that we spoke about that could help him – a) on the pitch and b) more from the human side of it and the thinking behind what he needs to do on a football pitch and how he needs to get himself to a level.
“I think he’s taken that on board.
“The easiest way to do it is looking at him from when I first came in here to where I look at him now, I think in my opinion he’s improved a lot.
“There’s still a long way for him to go and still things for him to improve on, but on the football side of it in terms of his contribution and in terms of him on the mental side of it and how he gets himself to a position in games defensively and offensively, his attitude towards it has definitely improved.
“I’ve been very, very pleased with him and he’s been a joy to work with.
“The type of lad he is and the attitude he has towards trying to get better and improve, I’m very pleased with that.”