Birmingham City left-back David Murphy believes that Alex McLeish’s squad are no longer playing as a team of individuals having chosen the ideal point in the season to gel.
McLeish has regularly lavished praise on Birmingham’s team spirit throughout this season and that mettle was clear to see at St Andrew’s on Monday.
Reduced to ten men following the loss of their inspirational captain Lee Carsley, rather than wilt, Birmingham produced a commanding performance to see off local and Championship title rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It was a display that warmed the majority of the season’s best 25,935 crowd, support that has been largely critical throughout the season.
Murphy, who made his first start in over a month due to a torn thigh muscle, may still have a long way to go to reach the great heights of his left-back rival and St Andrew’s cult figure Franck Queudrue in the eyes of the club’s supporters. However merely playing a role in Monday’s potential title-winning victory would have improved that relationship.
The 25-year-old insists that while there may be plenty of competition in the Birmingham squad, a togetherness is present.
“We’ve got great fitness levels in our squad and everyone kept going and fighting for each other. I think that was the key to the victory on Monday night for me,” admitted Murphy.
“I think we seemed to have gelled now, we seem to be working as a team rather than individuals. We are all coming together at the right time of the season.
“With our squad there’s not much space in that changing room now, which is good for the gaffer as it gives him a selection headache and everyone has got to fight for their place, it’s good for the team.”
Murphy supplied the diagonal ball from deep that fell into the path of Garry O’Connor, via the head of Wolves defender Christophe Berra, for Birmingham’s second goal on Monday.
Was it a goal that was down to intuition between the two former Hibernian team-mates?
“I was looking for the pass but there wasn’t much on until I saw Gaz spin. I fancy Garry O’Connor against most centre-halves in this league so I just put the ball in behind, thankfully he got on the end of it.”
Murphy also had a clear view of Birmingham’s opener from Cameron Jerome against Wolverhampton. It was an effort more akin to a try in a rugby match from a rolling maul than a football goal.
“I think the referee and linesman were looking at each other and didn’t know what was going on but obviously, I think, it was a clear goal,” he said.
“The ball wasn’t in the keeper’s hands and Cameron bundled it over, it was a great time to score.”
*?Carsley has automatically received a three-match suspension for his sending off against Wolves. The former Republic of Ireland international midfielder will now miss Birmingham’s forthcoming matches at Charlton Athletic, at home to Plymouth Argyle and away to Watford.
*?Gary McSheffrey has cut short his loan spell at Nottingham Forest due to a knee injury. The 26-year-old was due to remain at the City Ground until the end of the season, but has returned to St Andrew’s prematurely and will now undergo surgery.