It's the most wonderful time of the year. No not Christmas, the time of year…
The Rangers transfer rumour mill continues to crank up a notch with every passing day. Martin Skrtel? Wayne Rooney? Fernando Torres? Kevin Kyle? I mean who will they be linked with next? It’s easy to lose sight of who Rangers have actually got to sign on the dotted line. Scott Arfield has the potential to be the missing puzzle piece in the middle of the park and Allan McGregor brings experience at the back. However, it might be the signing of Jamie Murphy on a permanent contract that’s the Ibrox club’s best bit of business thus far.
He perhaps isn’t the most exciting signing since Steven Gerrard was announced as manager. After all, McGregor is a favourite that reminds fans of a more successful era and Arfield is being painted as a Premier League star. Conversely, unlike the latter, Murphy has proven he can make the jump from England to Scotland and perform to the best of his ability.
The winger was by far the best of Mark Allen’s January signings. He quickly found his feet in Graeme Murty’s team and showed he has genuine quality. His pace and ability to take on defenders proved extremely effective in the Premiership. Moreover, Rangers rely heavily on the dynamic right-sided duo of James Tavernier and Daniel Candeias so to have an offensive threat on the opposite side was beneficial.
Just how much of an impact did Jamie Murphy make and what did he bring to Rangers from January onwards? We decided to dive into the data to take a closer look at why signing the 28-year-old permanently is a good bit of business by Rangers.
There’s absolutely no doubt this was a chaotic campaign for Rangers both on and off the pitch. That said, one problem they didn’t have was scoring goals. In fact, Murty’s side finished ahead of Celtic, scoring 76 compared to their Glasgow rival’s 73. Murphy was a key component in this, providing assists and creating chances for his teammates on a regular basis. He took very little time to settle in and showed exactly what he is about.
Without being overly dramatic, Murphy’s assist numbers are staggering. In essence, this is a player who joined Scottish football in January yet finished second in overall assists. The 28-year old set up seven goals which were only bested by teammate and assist king, Candeias. He’s ahead of some big names on there including Scott Sinclair and Stuart Armstrong.
If you think that’s impressive then let’s take a look at his assists per 90. No player averages more assists per game than the Scotland international (0.42). Not Scott Allan, not Tavernier and not even Candeias; that’s a stat you cannot argue with. Rangers have a player that can not only score goals but also create them.
Assists are a relatively simple metric to show Murphy’s quality, so let’s take a look at another; key passes. A key pass is one that leads to a shot on goal and is a good indicator of whether a player is setting up goalscoring opportunities for his teammates.
Murphy played significantly fewer key passes (9) than Candeias (25) and Tavernier (21) but he was only at Ibrox half the season. That said, he still managed to play as many passes that lead to a shot as Josh Windass, Greg Docherty and Jason Holt. A better metric to use is key passes per 90 minutes which gives us a truer reflection of Murphy’s performance.
Again Candeias comes out on top as he averages 0.71 key passes per match. Murphy is behind him with an impressive 0.54 which tells us that were he to have played a full season at Ibrox his overall number of key passes would be significantly higher. This is exciting for Rangers fans as there’s a good chance that the best is yet to come if the winger can continue his form into the new season.
Another significant attribute of Murphy’s is his directness. He’s exactly what you want in a winger, he’s pacy and enjoys taking on his man. When he has the ball the first thing he is doing to do is move forward and look to see how he can put his team on the front foot and into attack mode.
Murphy is one of the top ten players in the Premiership when it comes to 1v1 dribbles per 90 minutes. He averages 7.67 a game which whilst impressive is still significantly behind the league’s top trio of Jordan Jones (13.11), Brandon Barker (12.23) and David Templeton (10.13). That said, it should be stressed that Murphy is Rangers’ top performing player in this metric. A feat not to be sniffed at given he only played half a season in Scotland. You could argue that Michael O’Halloran is ahead of him but most of his numbers are based on performances for St Johnstone.
Whilst Murphy may average less 1v1 dribbles per match than some, he trumps them all when it comes to beating his man. The Rangers attacker is successful in 83.59% of his dribbles; nobody else has a better success rate. There’s also a significant gap between him and Miles Storey in second place (76.80%). Simply put, when Murphy takes on his man there’s a very good chance he’s going to beat him. That’s an invaluable attribute for a winger and one that has already proved fruitful for Rangers.
As much as Murphy enjoys cutting in from the left to try and penetrate teams he also manages to get to the byline to provide crosses. When we scratch this surface in this area we again see that Murphy is a top performer for his club.
Once again Candeias (6.70) and Tavernier (4.88) are the best in terms of crosses per 90 minutes. Murphy is fourth best (2.82) but is the most accurate when it comes to crossing the ball. Over 40% of Jamie Murphy’s are on the money whereas just 25.96% of Candeias’ crosses find a man in a blue shirt. Simply put, no player at Ibrox has better crossing accuracy than Murphy.
Rangers have secured a winger who had the best crossing accuracy and highest success rate in 1v1 dribbles last season. Moreover, he’s one of the best assist makers in the league and also provides an impressive number of key passes. It’s an absolute no-brainer that Mark Allen made sure Murphy was a Rangers player permanently.