Hughes leaps to Murphy’s defence

Murphy last week accused certain managers of firing their players

up too much before a match, identifying Stoke, Wolves and Blackburn

by name. The 33-year-old branded some tackles “ridiculous” and

“brainless” and insisted managers should take responsibility,

drawing an angry response from the trio criticised. Sam Allardyce

led the backlash on Thursday when he demanded a public apology and

the Rovers boss has since received vociferous support from fellow

targets Mick McCarthy and Tony Pulis. Hughes attempted to diffuse

the situation by insisting Murphy’s views had been taken out of

context and refused to condemn his player. “You must recognise that

Danny is on the coalface,” said the Fulham manager. “In his view in

certain games against certain opposition, opponents have

over-stepped the mark. “You have to accept that because even as a

manager you don’t know the intent of somebody. “As a player I knew

when someone was over-stepping the line or just making a fair and

competitive tackle. “There’s a lot been said about Danny being

disrespectful, but having had conversations with him he has huge

respect for the managers of the teams he mentioned. “Maybe it was

because we have recent history with the teams he mentioned, so they

were fresh in his mind. “If you looked at the whole interview, he

was very complimentary to those teams and their managers. It was

taken a little bit of context. “We’re disappointed by the reaction

to it. Maybe it’s understandable given the comments but you must

respect that Danny has an opinion. “He was being honest. He’s an

honest guy and has forthright views. “He’s quite prepared to have

his say. He’s probably been surprised by the reaction.” Hughes,

however, hinted at his frustration at Murphy’s decision to voice

his opinion in such a forum as public as the Leaders in Football

conference. “Danny wanted to make a point but whether he did that

in the right manner is open to debate,” he said. The honesty shown

by Murphy, who is an articulate and thoughtful speaker on the game,

has been praised, but it has also placed Hughes in an uncomfortable

position. He may agree after seeing key forward Bobby Zamora

sidelined for five months with a broken leg following a hard

challenge against Wolves, while Mousa Dembele was lucky to escape

with only a three-week lay-off after being hacked down at Stoke.

But Blackburn were known for their physical tactics during Hughes’

four-year spell at Ewood Park and the former Wales striker has some

sympathy with Allardyce. “Sam will feel aggrieved because his club

was mentioned. Sam has the stats to have a different argument. We

understand that,” he said. “At Blackburn I was occasionally

disappointed with the press coverage and the reputation of the team

I had. “I felt that was unjust so I can understand why he has

reacted, but we all have to move on. I don’t think it will have

lasting damage. “The three managers Danny mentioned send their

players out with real commitment to win games, as I do myself.”

Hughes suggested that Murphy could have chosen his wording more

carefully. “Maybe in hindsight Danny would have felt better about

this week if he hadn’t actually named the clubs,” said Hughes.

“That’s probably something he regrets, but he felt he needed to say

something on the issue. “He was trying to make a valid point but

maybe he did it in the wrong way. Only he can say if he feels he

should apologise. “The comments jumped on were part of a larger

debate and he would probably say that he qualified the comments by

what he said later at the conference. But those comments weren’t

used by the media. “Danny’s an experienced guy and will possibly

learn from this episode. “We’re trying to focus on a Premier League

game but I’m sure Danny will have more to say on this in the

future.” The furore over Murphy has overshadowed Fulham’s Premier

League appointment with Tottenham on Saturday. Hughes revealed that

Damien Duff and Dickson Etuhu are out with calf and ankle problems,

but Dembele is available after overcoming his ankle injury.