CCF Rebooted: No.3 - Brian Barry-Murphy
Wednesday, 13th Jan 2021 13:39 by AtThePeake
In the latest instalment of this feature, Dean takes a look back at the playing days of Dale's current manager, Brian Barry-Murphy.
Few players in my memory have signed with such a specific role in mind as the one Brian Barry-Murphy was tasked with at the start of the 2010/2011 season.
We had seen from the closing stages of the previous season once promotion was all but secure that Keith Hill would be abandoning the 4-4-2 of that campaign in favour a 4-3-3 and 'BBM' joined on a free transfer from Bury to slot into the position at the base of the three-man midfield.
To be honest, hopes were pretty low for Barry-Murphy upon arrival judging on what our friends over at Gigg Lane had to say about him. Despite making over 200 league appearances for Bury, reviews suggested he was slow and weak in the tackle and offered little in the way of dynamism.
Although it's fair to say he wasn't a 'box-to-box' midfielder, BBM offered the back four protection in that first season while adding a range of cultured passing and with the out-ball of Chris O'Grady on the left hand side, it allowed for raking forward balls as well as smart passes into his more advanced midfield team-mates in Jason Kennedy and Gary Jones.
The issues that BBM faced are the occupational hazard of a deep lying midfielder. He was accused often of being too negative and playing the ball sideways too often by certain sections of the fanbase.
However, never being scared to put a foot in as the Bury fans had suggested, Barry-Murphy proved to be a pivotal cog of the team that enjoyed an excellent first season in League One, but his appearances in the first team would diminish season upon season after that.
In the following campaign, in which Dale were relegated, BBM played 26 times for the two different managers, his more elegant style perhaps less suited to both Steve Eyre and in particular John Coleman, although I do remember one fine performance from him, out of position at left-back in a rare away win at Preston under Eyre.
The Cork man also scored his one and only goal for the club in this season, a free-kick from a wide position in a 1-3 home defeat to MK Dons that evaded everybody in the box to find its way into the net. In fact, BBM's crossed set-pieces were often a threat, particularly in the 2010/2011 campaign when the prolific Craig Dawson was the target in the box.
He made 9 appearances in 2012/2013, and was afforded just three games in the opening stages of the 2013/2014 promotion campaign as his role at the club digressed away from playing and towards the coaching side, largely helping the club's youth outfits as he discussed on the RochdaleAFC.com podcast last year.
After Dale's promotion, he appeared just once more in the league in December of 2015 but by then was a permanent fixture of the coaching staff, perhaps by then being primed by the club's hierarchy to take over from Keith Hill upon his eventual departure.
The story of BBM as manager of the club is one that's still being written, so I'm hesitant to say too much at this stage. It's fair to say so far that the team he is trying to create does appear in some ways to be in his image as a footballer, with a heavy focus on possession, to the point of frustration some times with supporters.
Photo: Action Images
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