Sheffield Wednesday column: Who must raise their game to stay in manager Garry Monk's side

Six starts, one goal and zero assists.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 11:09 am
Updated Thursday, 19th September 2019, 20:51 pm
Owls loan winger Jacob Murphy

It is safe to say Jacob Murphy has made an inauspicious to life in the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday.

The speedy wide man, signed on a season long-loan from Newcastle United last month, netted with his first touch in a 2-0 victory over South Yorkshire neighbours Barnsley.

But since his eye-catching home debut, Murphy has failed to consistently produce the goods. Wednesdayites have only seen fleeting glimpses of Murphy's talent.

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His inconsistent form saw him withdrawn at half-time against Preston North End, benched for Queens Park Rangers and taken off after an hour of Sunday's victory over Huddersfield Town.

Murphy was given an opportunity by new manager Garry Monk to show what he could do from the start at the John Smith's Stadium, but he did not take his chance (although he was denied a stonewall second half penalty after Terriers captain Christopher Schindler blatantly barged him over). Murphy was quiet and easily shackled by Huddersfield's leaky defence.

Given Kadeem Harris has delivered a number of stellar performances on the opposite flank, that has probably increased the scrutiny on Murphy. Harris has arguably been the Owls' standout performer this term...and Wednesday paid nothing to sign him in the summer.

Murphy's capture was greeted with universal approval in S6. Big things were expected of the 24-year-old, a £10million Rafa Benitez buy at Newcastle.

Yet Murphy has not delivered so far and frequently drifted in and out of matches.

Did the uncertainty over the managerial situation affect Murphy's form before the first international break? Has he lost a little bit of confidence? Who knows.

But Monk's arrival marks the start of a new era and a fresh start for everybody.

At Huddersfield, Adam Reach was utilised in an advanced attacking role, but Monk has since stated that he regards the £5m man largely as a winger. Reach is another player in Wednesday's squad still searching for his best form after a mixed start to the campaign.

Arguably the Owls' player of the year so far, Harris will get the opportunity to run at Fulham's defence from the left wing.

Monk likes his teams to be adaptable and has hinted he will, from time to time, mix up their formation.

But regardless of whether Wednesday line up 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 or in another system, Harris has undisputedly nailed down a place on the left flank.

There is every chance Reach and Murphy could end up fighting it out for the other wing spot.

"Competition is really healthy and if you haven't got it people get complacent and people lose their standards, " said Murphy after completing his move to Hillsborough. "When you know you have got good players there who can easily take your position, it makes you work a lot harder."

Murphy's place in the team is under threat and he will certainly have to knuckle down and work hard to avoid becoming a squad player.