Eddie Howe has saluted unsung hero Jacob Murphy after watching him inspire Newcastle to Premier League victory over Crystal Palace.
Murphy, a £12million signing from Norwich in July 2017, has been a peripheral character for much of his time at St James’ Park to date and was sent out on loan to West Brom and Sheffield Wednesday before Howe’s appointment as head coach in November 2021.
However, it was the 28-year-old that the manager turned to for the club’s first Champions League fixture in 20 years at AC Milan last month, and he was asked to fill the injured Harvey Barnes’ boots against Palace, responding with the opening goal and setting up two of the three which followed in a 4-0 win.
Asked about the contribution of a man whose future at one point looked to lie away from St James’ Park, Howe said: “He’s someone who is the ultimate professional. He’s reliable, plays multiple positions and has never let me down.
“For me, it’s all about consistency. What you’re looking for from the players’ perspective is that they turn up every day and give their best.
“Now, you’re going to have some good days and you’re going to have some bad days. I always say that the key response is how you handle the bad days.
“Before I came here, Jacob had some difficult moments, but you have to keep coming back.
“You have to be really resilient, you have to keep turning up, and I believe that if you do the right things off the pitch, then eventually you’ll show the right things on the pitch.
“For me, he’s just been that model of consistency in his approach and attitude.
“It’s great to see someone who puts that work in rewarded with an opportunity, and then it’s all about taking that opportunity. He’s done that, and it’s great to see.”
Murphy’s fourth-minute opener, a lob towards Callum Wilson which looped over keeper Sam Johnstone and crept inside the far post, set the Magpies on their way, but it was two goals inside three minutes at the end of the first half which put them out of sight as Anthony Gordon, from Murphy’s cross, and Sean Longstaff found the back of the net.
Callum Wilson completed the scoring 24 minutes from time with the former Canaries winger again supplying the assist to send Newcastle, who used midfielder Sandro Tonali as a second-half substitute as he awaits the outcome of a betting investigation, into Wednesday night’s Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund on Tyneside confident they can build upon their 4-1 demolition of Paris St Germain.
Howe said: “After the PSG win, we want to continue our momentum and see where it takes us.”
Opposite number Roy Hodgson left the north-east in sombre mood after a day to forget.
Hodgson said: “We were unfortunate with the first goal, of course, that didn’t help, that freak goal.
“If we’d have scored it, I’d have be delighted, but it’s a tough goal to have against you after a few minutes because that’s not one that really has come about because you’ve got it totally wrong defensively.”