Match of Their Day: Danny Murphy picks his classic Premier League games

Tim Daniels Soccer

Match Of Their Day: Danny Murphy admits he regrets leaving Liverpool

You can’t pick a list of classic Premier League fixtures without including at least one Merseyside derby.

Danny Murphy has done just that in his pick of three classic games for Match of Their Day, naturally including one in which he featured on the winning side for Liverpool against Everton.

The Reds are just one of the six clubs the former England midfielder played for over an 18-year period in which he made close to 500 league appearances.

This included successful spells with Fulham, from which he selects another of his games, and Tottenham, who feature in his final pick, playing Manchester United in a top-flight classic.

The 43-year-old reflects on the moment Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier pulled him into his office for a chat about his home life because he had not had a shave.

“He [Houllier] was very intelligent, calm and articulate,” Murphy told Gary Lineker. “He was very observant and he was somebody who could pull you in the office and give you a pat on the back and make you feel good about yourself, but if he felt you weren’t at it, he would let you know in no uncertain times.

“He pulled me in once and asked if I was OK because I hadn’t shaved and I hadn’t said hello yesterday and if everything was OK at home. It was very unusual and I had not had a manager like that before.”

Here are Murphy’s three classic matches…

Tottenham 3-5 Man Utd

29 September 2001

Manchester United recovered from being 3-0 down at half-time to win 5-3

Murphy was with Liverpool at the time but it didn’t stop him casting admiring glances towards this game – one of the finest ever played in the English top flight.

In what was a theme throughout this season for United, who had just sold Jaap Stam, they conceded freely in the first half as Tottenham ran riot with three unanswered goals.

What followed was one of the great comebacks and more as the Juan Sebastian Veron-inspired visitors blew the home side away. Years later, United captain Roy Keane revealed what Sir Alex Ferguson had told them at half-time: “Lads, it’s Tottenham.”

Murphy: “It was an amazing comeback. We [Liverpool] had been on a journey of getting better each season and Manchester United and Arsenal were the two sides we were trying to catch and overcome.

“We played the next day so we listened to the first half on the coach and they were 3-0 down and you started to think they might fall away and we could have a chance.

“Then we got to the hotel and started watching the game and they got one and then two. Even without Ryan Giggs and Roy Keane, they scored five within half an hour. When you’re playing against teams, as players, you learn not to be in awe of them but there was a respect we had of Man Utd at the time.

“When you watched them play with the freedom and the ability they had, it was a bit deflating for us to see them do that so comfortably to Tottenham. They had a conveyor belt of winning trophies and producing players. It was a wonderful performance.”

Everton 1-2 Liverpool

19 April 2003

Murphy’s long-range strike secured a derby win for Liverpool

The 168th Merseyside derby could not have been better poised. With five games remaining for each in the 2002-03 season, both sides were in contention for a Champions League place, with Everton fifth on 56 points and Liverpool a place and a point worse off.

Going into the game with a makeshift defence, the Reds were forced into further emergency measures at the back when Igor Biscan was injured early on. But thanks to Michael Owen and Murphy himself, they came through to win, but not before the Blues had seen two men sent off.

Murphy: “I grew up as a Liverpool supporter in the 80s and the main rivalry was with Everton, it wasn’t really against Manchester United. The two dreams I had as a boy were to put on a Liverpool shirt and play at Anfield, and the other was to score in the derby.

“It’s a great memory for me and a game that has not been talked about as much because of the goals I scored against Man Utd, but it’s a game that lives long in the memory for me and my family.

“I missed the previous game because I slipped in the training ground and had a spasm in my neck. I was delighted to get back out there and play this game and it was a game that went really for me. It was more than just a derby because they were above us in the table at the time, and having a decent season.

“We started the game without Sammi Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz who were our main centre-backs around that period. Then we lost Igor Biscan, so we had a bit of a mixed bag in the back four. There were a few verbals and a couple of sending offs and it had everything like the derby did.”

Man City 2-3 Fulham

26 April 2008

Murphy brought Fulham on level terms from the penalty spot before Kamara’s winner

The great escape. Having sat 19th in the table since New Year and five points adrift of safety with three games to play, nobody gave Roy Hodgson’s Fulham a chance of avoiding the drop. Even less so when City took a 2-0 lead after just 21 minutes.

But thanks to second-half sub Diomansy Kamara and that man Murphy again, the Cottagers somehow found the will to turn the game around and set up the mother of all escapology acts on the final day of the season.

Murphy: “It was my first season at Fulham and we were away at Manchester City, who had Sven Goran-Eriksson in charge, and they had some good players in an attacking team. We had three games left and we needed to win all of them [to have a chance of staying up]. It was a tremendous game that had everything. It was end-to-end and I was proud to be a part of it.

“As we were walking in at half-time [2-0 down] someone told us we had been relegated with results as they were, which wasn’t exactly a boost. Roy [Hodgson] came in and didn’t say anything at first, and then he just told us to calm down, relax and have a drink, that we were playing well and if we got the next one we might get back into it.

“He didn’t make a change and with a bit of luck we got there. It was a remarkable comeback considering we didn’t win a lot of games on the road that year. Joe Hart told me in the build-up to my penalty that he knew what I was going to do and he had seen all my penalties, but I wasn’t sure if he was bluffing me.

“I had always been calm taking penalties against big keepers but he got to me. I changed my mind and it was a weak effort but he pushed it back to me and sometimes you need that bit of fortune.”

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