Could Glenn Murray shock send Brighton fire back to Premier League safety?

Brighton and Hove Albion are not clinical enough.

Taking No Risks has been the story of the Seagulls’ 2020/21 season and goes a long way towards explaining why a capable football team that can take on the best teams in the Premier League are 17th. in the table with only two wins on the table.

It’s pretty clear that what Graham Potter needs is a striker to put the ball in the net. The Brighton boss was reluctant to dive into the transfer market to find one this summer. He rejected the idea of ​​signing what he described as a “silver bullet” center-forward for a lot of money, saying instead he wanted to improve production on the Seagull’s existing futures options.

Danny Welbeck
Brighton signed Danny Welbeck on a free transfer this summer following his release from Watford | Mike Hewitt / Getty Images

Potter failed to do this. Instead, Neal Maupay suffered a three-month drought, during which he was kicked out of the squad altogether over discipline issues. Aaron Connolly has one goal under his belt all season. Since November, Leandro Trossard has looked at the shadow of talent he was after the lockout and early 2020/21 and Alireza Jahanbakhsh barely had a look-in.

Brighton signed Danny Welbeck, but that transfer only came after the window was closed and the former England striker released by Watford. It was an agreement born out of convenience more than anything else. Welbeck needed a club, Brighton needed reinforcements, here is a one year performance incentive contract, risk free for both sides.

Welbeck has two goals under his belt, has shown flashes of his former self and at least seems to know how to finish a chance. His playing time needs to be carefully managed, however, and he hasn’t really solved Brighton’s problems when it comes to putting the ball in the net.

Glenn murray
Glenn Murray has only made one start on loan at Watford in the first half of the 2020/21 Championship season | Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

This is why there is now a growing clamor among Brighton supporters for the return of Glenn Murray. The 37-year-old joined Watford on loan for the season but barely had a sniff at Vicarage Road with former Hornets boss Vladimir Ivić, giving Murray just one championship start and four substitute appearances . Murray has yet to feature under Vicarage Road’s latest hot post incumbent Xisco.

Watford is expected to cut losses on Murray and terminate his loan early, according to reports. Could that lead to a romantic return to the Amex and one last swansong for the Seagulls’ second-highest scorer of all time sending them back to Premier League safety?

Jose Izquierdo, Aaron Ramsdale
Alireza Jahanbakhsh takes on the three-meter bar for Brighton against Sheffield United | Pool / Getty Images

It’s not hard to see why some Brighton fans see Murray as the answer.

Take the Seagulls’ 1-1 draw with Sheffield United, for example. Connolly defied the laws of geometry by directing a high and wide cross two meters into the middle of an open goal. In the final seconds, Alireza Jahanbakhsh then set a free header against the three-meter bar. These are just two examples of the kind of chances the current Brighton striker roster will be unable to tidy up what Murray would eat for breakfast.

Growing old never had an impact on Murray’s abilities. Even when he first signed at Brighton in January 2008 for £ 300,000 from Rochdale, he never trusted the pace. His game has always been to hold the game, to be smart and to be in the right place at the right time. The fact that he scores so many goals is due to his prowess as a finisher. In the 2018/19 campaign, Murray was the third most clinical striker in the Premier League, knocking out 24.1% of the chances he had. Only Anthony Martial and Sadio Mane were more deadly; Murray’s conversion rate puts him ahead of Mo Salah, Sergio Aguero and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Judging by the little playing time he gave Glenn Murray in the 2019/20 season, Graham Potter was not a fan of the veteran striker | ADRIAN DENNIS / Getty Images

For some reason, Potter never really took Murray after his appointment as Seagulls boss in May 2019. Murray was barely used in the 2019/20 season by Brighton, despite showing that he showed up. its value every time it was called. On the rare occasions Potter started it in the second half of the season, he scored a late equalizer to save a 3-3 draw at West Ham United in February and caught up with Maupay as Brighton drew 1- 1 with Southampton in good shape in July. . Murray and Maupay in tandem caused real problems for the Saints that night, which makes it all the more bizarre that a potentially powerful partnership between the two hardly had the chance.

It’s Potter’s aversion to Murray that makes the prospect of a fairytale return unlikely. One of the most ridiculous tactical decisions made by Potter during his reign so far – and there is a lot of competition for this honor – came back to Bournemouth last January, when he cast Solly March and Leandro Trossard as flawless wingers to deliver crosses for Aaron Connolly while Murray remained an unused replacement. It was revealed that Potter prefers to rely on the air ability of the 5’6 attacker rather than the skills of Murray’s target man.

The fact that Murray is even being talked about as the man to turn Brighton upside down does not reflect well the club’s transfer deals in the attacking department. This is of course nothing new; since Gus Poyet allowed Murray to leave for Crystal Palace in the summer of 2011, the Seagulls have tried to replace him with little to no success.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
Glenn Murray scored 36.1% of Brighton’s Premier League goals in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons | Steve Bardens / Getty Images

Leonardo Ulloa filled the void for 18 months between January 2013 and his sale to Leicester City in the summer of 2014. Brighton, however, never really found a heir to Murray before signing Murray himself again from Bournemouth in 2016 Potter may have decided he was doing it. not assess the veteran, but he too has been unable to find someone to score the goals Murray made by sending Brighton back for promotion and then keeping them in the top flight almost on his own under Chris Hughton. In the 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, Murray scored 36% of the Seagulls’ top-flight goals – the highest amount by a player. already has contributed to only one team since the Premier League was formed in 1992.

When you see Murray leaving with cold, tough numbers like 36% or his conversion rate of 24.1%, you begin to understand why Brighton fans are wondering if the answer to their scoring issues might not be. found with a player their club already owns.

Unfortunately for those longing for a romantic comeback, it’s the opinion of one man that matters – Potter – and he’s made his position on Murray clear.