Brighton & Hove Albion have been linked with former striker Glenn Murray, in a bid to solve their lack of firepower as the league season enters the final stretch.
The Bournemouth striker left the Albion in 2011, joining bitter rivals Crystal Palace in a move that some fans will struggle to forgive. After helping Gus Poyet’s side win promotion to the second tier of English football, Murray signed for the Eagles just shy of Albion’s transition from Withdean’s running track to the Amex Stadium.
A player moving between bitter rivals is always going to be controversial but to make it worse, the 32-year-old scored for Palace in Albion’s first league defeat in their new home and inflicted further damage the following season, netting twice in a 3-0 win at Selhurst Park.
Murray then guided the Croydon club into the play-offs scoring 30 goals along the way, before leaving the field on a stretcher when the two derby clubs went head to head in the play-off semi-final first leg. Of course, to the disappointment of Albion fans, Palace won over two legs and then surpassed Watford at Wembley to gain promotion to the Premier League.
The Selhurst outfit have since enjoyed three seasons in the top flight and many Albion fans hold Murray responsible for giving Brighton’s biggest rivals the chance of success in England’s top tier. Murray fell down the pecking order under current manager Alan Pardew before making the switch to Bournemouth, where he seems to be slipping out of Eddie Howe’s first team plans.
The club have spent £17m on two strikers throughout the January transfer window and it seems the writing is on the wall for Murray, who only joined the south coast club in August last year. A move back to Brighton would be favourable for the 6ft 2in striker, who still lives in Sussex and has a step-son playing in Albion’s academy. The playing squad, which is crying out for a prolific goalscorer, would also benefit from his potential return.
Although the deal seems perfect for both player and club, there’s no doubt it would receive a mixed reception from Albion’s fans. This is where pride must be put to one side and the progress of the football club must take centre stage. Crystal Palace may not be where they are today without Murray’s contribution, but it’s also important to remember that Brighton may not be where they are either for similar reasons.
Murray scored 22 goals in Albion’s triumphant League One success, setting up a magical debut season at the Amex Stadium playing Championship football. The former Rochdale man may not have joined the Seagulls in their new home, but his contribution beforehand should not be swept under the carpet.
What also shouldn’t be forgotten is Murray’s refusal to overindulge in his celebrations following all three goals against his former club. Despite receiving constant negativity from the majority of Albion supporters, the Cumbrian born striker remained cool on all three occasions, showing respect towards his former club when he had every right to rub added salt into Albion’s wounds.
Arguably Albion’s best player at the time, the club wasn’t willing to match Murray’s demands before he finally left for Palace. His flimsy relationship with power-obsessed manager Gus Poyet was a stumbling block in Albion’s efforts to tie down the player. An agreement couldn’t be reached and Albion’s prized possession headed out the back door in the season they needed him most.
However, five years on, it seems now is the time Albion really need Murray most and with a level-headed manager at the helm, a balanced agreement between player and club could be in the pipeline. Albion are in desperate need of a proven goalscorer at Championship level, a position Murray is already qualified in.
If Murray does return, Albion fans must forgive and forget in pursuit of promotion. Murray may hold the key but Albion must open the door.