Our latest interview is with former Rangers midfield man Paul Murray, currently with Oldham Athletic. Muzza talks about his run of injuries, working for Iain Dowie and just how he ended up pictured in programme as a youngster wearing a Rangers kit.
QPRnet.com: Ok we’ll ease you in gently - how’s things at going at Oldham for you?
PM: Very well, except I’m inured again!
QPRnet.com: What have you done now?
PM: I’ve dislocated my knee cap, I did that at QPR a couple of times but it only kept me out for a few weeks, this time it’s going to be more like two months. I’ll make sure I’m ready to go by October 26th though!
QPRnet.com: How are you finding working for Iain Dowie?
PM: Yeh good, I always got on well with him at QPR, I know what he’s about, he knows what I’m about, it’s a good working relationship. We should do well this season, it’ll be tough for him and he’s learning on the way but he’s got a lot of knowledge about the game so I think he’ll do well.
QPRnet.com: Do you think he should have been given a chance at QPR?
PM: Personally yes I do, there was that period when Gerry left and he was assistant, I can’t see why they didn’t just give him the job then, even if it was just till the end of the season. Obviously they had Olly in mind and that’s worked out well for them. Personally I would have given him a go, but it’s not my decision.
QPRnet.com: What happened towards the end of your time at QPR?
PM: QPR had a two-year option on me, I’d originally signed for four years but they could extend that if they wanted to so I went into a meeting with Gerry and he said that they couldn’t afford to give me the option. They offered me another contract but it was less than half of what the option would have worked out to. I was happy to stay and if they had come back with a better offer I would have signed it but this would have worked out less than what I was on for the last two years of my original four-year deal. It got to the end of the season and I was playing on a week-to-week deal and that went through the summer.
We went into pre-season and I was playing really really well then I broke my foot and I was out for months, came back and broke it again. It was about February by the time I came back then the pin broke inside so I had to have that taken out! By the time I got back to fitness Gerry had gone and Olly was the manager. He told me I was in his plans and I played the last six games.
The summer came round and I had a meeting with Olly and Nick Blackburn, Olly said he wanted me to stay and I said that I wanted to stay but by that time the club was in financial ruin and couldn’t afford the offer I wanted. I was worried about whether I would be playing and where I would be playing, Olly assured me that I would be a first team regular but I was thinking of starting a family and needed more security that they could offer, so I decided it was best to call it a day. I would have loved to stayed though and to be honest I’m gutted it didn’t work out. I loved it there and I always saw myself playing towards a testimonial with QPR, but that’s football.
QPRnet.com: How did the move to QPR come about?
PM: Well I had a choice of a few clubs when I joined, but QPR were in the Premier League at the time and Ray Wilkins had told me that if I signed I would defiantly be playing. I thought that this sounded like the club for me, all I had to do was help them stay up, so I signed and came down to watch QPR play Man United and Cantona scored in something like the ninety sixth minute and that was pretty much the nail in the coffin before I’d even kicked a ball. I was gutted when we came down but I thought we’d bounce straight back up but that’s when it started to go wrong financially. We spent too much money on the wrong players, John Spencer was a great signing to be fair but we spent a lot on Mike Sheron and that didn’t really work out and it all started to go wrong from there.
QPRnet.com: You had a horrendous run of injuries at QPR, you broke your leg twice etc, have these had any long term effects on your game?
PM: It’s funny I’ve never had little niggling injuries, like hamstrings, the sort of stuff that keeps you out for a month or so. All my injuries have been serious ones! I had two broken feet and a broken leg. I always thought to myself how the hell am I injured again. I did everything right, kept myself fit but it’s just unbelievable bad luck. Saying that I’ve still played three hundred games which isn’t bad considering I’ve missed two seasons of my career.
The broken leg had the biggest effect on my career I guess. I’d just played for the England ‘B’ team and broke it at Norwich the next week. That took me a good six months to get over in my head. One minute I was playing for England then I’m out totally. It got me down and when I came back I was worried for a while that I was going to do it again.
QPRnet.com: You scored 7 goals in your time at Rangers, is that an area you were disappointed with or would you put that down to being played out of position too much?
PM: The first season I played for Rangers I think the fans saw the real me, under Stewart and Bruce I was given the freedom I wanted, they played me in the middle whether it was a midfield two or three and just said to me do what you want, go forward, get back there’s no reigns on you and I scored five that season. The next year I played in various different positions and I only got two and the season after that was the year I played twenty seven times for Gerry, most of it out of position but when I was played in midfield I wasn’t allowed to get forward, I was playing a holding role which just isn’t me.|
When I got to Oldham I said to Mick Wadsworth if I’m going to come I want to play in midfield, I’ll get back and tackle then go forward. He agreed and I scored five in twelve games, and really I should have scored more – I missed a few! So I was very disappointed not to score more at QPR but I never got the freedom I needed.
QPRnet.com: Are you going to be given that freedom this season then?
PM: Yeh, I’ve spoken to Iain about it and he’s fine, I’m just looking forward to getting fit because in this division I should hit double figures really.
Actually I remember I had a great chance to score against QPR at Boundary Park last season, I took my time too much – it must have been an instinct saying don’t score!
QPRnet.com: What was your favourite game you played in at QPR?
PM: Without a shadow of a doubt the four all draw at Port Vale. It was an unbelievable game to be a part of, we were four nil down and were getting hammered, we went in at half time and the gaffer just said, “go out and get some pride back”.
They nearly scored another but Rufus cleared it off the line, it actually went over the line and we all knew it but the ref didn’t give it so that was the catalyst to do well. I think we got an own goal first, then Andy Impey got one, I scored a chip to make it four-three then Spenny got the last minute goal. What a comeback!
QPRnet.com: There was a photo of you as a youngster in the QPR program wearing a Rangers kit, how does a kid from Carlisle end up with a QPR kit?
PM: I haven’t got a clue! When I was younger I had a collection of a few different shirts and I remember QPR then when Bardsley was right back and Les was scoring all them goals so I must have bought it then. I was never really a fan, I think I must have just seen the shirt on TV and liked it! So when I signed for QPR my Dad pulled the photo out and I couldn’t believe it!
QPRnet.com: Mick Wadsworth seems to have had a big influence on your career, what’s he got that you admire so much?
PM: He’s the type of manager I like. So was Ian Holloway and Stewart and Bruce, I know the fans didn’t like them though. With them it’s like this is what you have to do now do it. If something was wrong they told you straight to your face, they didn’t beat around the bush, they told you what you had to hear.
When I was seventeen at Carlisle I’d just got in the team and Mick absolutely hammered me in front of all the lads and it made me cry. One day though I just realised that it didn’t matter whether I was seventeen or thirty, he would just tell you what you were doing wrong. So I like that type of manager, the sort that would turn round and say “I’m not taking any shit from you and if you don’t want to play for me you can piss off”, you know where you stand.
Some managers, some at QPR would say “I’m playing this player ahead of you, even if they don’t play well” which is scandalous really, if you’re not playing well you shouldn’t be playing, so I like someone who isn’t scared to drop the top players if they are not doing well.
QPRnet.com: So you’ll be off to Huddersfield soon then now Mick’s in charge there?!
PM: (laughs) No, I’m happy at Oldham, I think we will do very well this season and hopefully we can go up, so I’m happy where I am right now. I hope he does well there though.
QPRnet.com: You only made one sub appearance for Southampton, do you think they gave you a fair chance?
PM: Not at all. I nearly signed for Newcastle but I failed the medical because of my foot. I knew I was fine but they were saying, and the specialist was saying I needed to have it done again. So imagine that, there I am in the middle of the summer with no club and everyone telling me I needed to have another operation. So I went down to Southampton and I was honest with them and told them the situation there and they were happy to give me a week to prove myself.
The first game I played for them I played right back and I played really well, so it carried on from there. I played left back, right back, wing back everywhere but midfield! I went to see Gordon Strachan and told him I wanted to play midfield and I ended up in the reserves. That was no good for me so I told my agent I wanted out. I needed to be playing, I’d only played six games the previous season and I’ve never been a player whose happy to just pick up a wage packet, I need to play football. I could have gone on loan to Burnley and Sheffield United, but Mick came in for me so it seemed perfect for me to move back up north with my old manager and be playing again.
QPRnet.com: Where do you see your career going from here then? Do you still think you have something to offer at the top level?
PM: I just want to get playing again. I’m playing second division football which I know I’m better than and I proved that last season in the twenty-five games I played. With football in the state it is in I’m happy, to be honest I think players should be happy to just get a contract these days. To go up with Oldham this season is what I’m aiming at right now, but I missed out on the Premiership and I want to play there.
From there I’d like to play for England. I’m one hundred percent sure I would have already if I hadn’t broken my leg that time, that might be out of the window now but I’ve still got ambitions to do it. Before I can do any of this though I need to get in the first division which means playing well and going up with Oldham.