It was never going to be easy for Jacob Murphy to impress the West Brom fans following his loan move from Newcastle.
He’d once cost the Magpies £12m, which brings a certain pressure all of its own. Then there was the player he replaced, one Harvey Barnes, a special talent revered and admired at the Hawthorns.
He had big shoes to fill, a big reputation to carry and yet in reality had played very little meaningful football. The heady days of his Norwich breakthrough must have seemed a long way away as he made his first Baggies appearance.
His first two outings were tepid, he looked nervous and unfit. Comparisons with the Leicester City loanee who’d bagged on his debut were inevitable and Murphy wasn’t coming out on a favourable light.
Even when he bagged recently against Nottingham Forest, he came under fire. His goal, a relatively simple tap in, could have been scored by anyone. It didn’t mark him out as a Barnes replacement.
To be labelled as such must have been tough, Murphy is a player in his own right but different in many ways to Barnes. It’s like comparing lager and bitter, two different products but both bringing a similar outcome.
It’s why today, Murphy will be delighted. He bagged again, this time not in a scraped 2-2 draw, but in a thrilling 3-2 win. That’s two goals in his first five matches, the same record boasted by a certain Mr Barnes. West Brom fans can see promotion on the horizon and he’s played a small part.
His confidence will be growing and surely those doubting his ability will begin to quieten down. He’s brought an end product and although he’s not a 21-year-old prodigy from Leicester, he looked far more like the 23-year-old £12m man last night.
If he keeps that up it might be good for West Brom, but it’s exactly what he needs to kick start his career, either back at St James’ Park or even away from the northeast.