It’s a typically modern phenomena; running the risk of losing players before you’ve barely seen them kick a football.
Whilst the striker has potential, how has it come to be that players can leverage so much on ‘promise’ alone?
Yet this was the ridiculous situation Villa found themselves in with the 18 year old striker’s deal running precariously close to and end.
It’s a fair argument to believe that the club should have found a resolution earlier. Equally, they might not have expected so much resistance to what was termed a “great offer”.
Ultimately, most would agree that the club should not be held to ransom either.
The farcical part of the saga was the unnecessary stalling of any deal. We can only conclude that this was to test interest from other parties. Or were Hepburn-Murphy & his advisers simply calling Villa’s bluff? Either way, it doesn’t strike The Villa Underground as particularly good counsel.
The sudden transfer stories were also telling.
Rangers’ Mark Warburton was even granted the funds to ensure a see that a pre-contract deal was secured.
What this resulted in was a number of public statements from an increasingly annoyed Steve Bruce. A practice that is becoming increasingly common since he took the reigns at B6.
It also led to RHM not being considered for selection; all whilst Villa were crying out for striking options in the New Year/January period.
It was hardly endearing or particularly enlightened from either party.
Bruce (23rd December 2016):
We’ve done our bit and made him a great offer,
It’s now up to the boy to decide where he sees his future.
Bruce (5th January 2017)
He [Hepburn-Murphy] won’t be involved. We have made a fantastic offer to the young boy but until he commits he won’t be involved.
I involved him [at Cardiff] because I was informed he would sign but he hasn’t yet. Until he commits then I won’t commit to him. I would rather get a young player in who will commit.
And now it is all smiles again.
RHM has signed a new deal keeping him at Villa Park for another 3 & a half years.
On announcing the signing Steve Bruce is again quoted in more positive, albeit measured terms:
“Rushian is highly thought of at this football club and I believe he has a bright future in the game.
“He needs to get his head down now, work hard in training – and the opportunities will come.
That’s “football” to a degree, but it serves to illustrate the behind the scenes distractions which are impeding our progress as a football club.
Our “talent”, nurtured since the age of 9 as in the case of RHM, should not have to be shepherded back into the club at the mere suggestion of a move and lure of more money. The idea that the offering of first team football opportunities in the Scottish leagues also doesn’t wash [with the greatest of respect to Rangers].
What he has lost is “face” and a month where he could easily have made an impression upon our fortunes. It’s impossible to know whether he would have improved our situation, but it could have been important time in the first 11. It’s hard to think that he wouldn’t have had chances with even Agbonlahor featuring in recent weeks.
It’s a missed trick. His opportunities will certainly be restricted now Kodjia has returned from international duty and with the big money signing of Scott Hogan.
Hepburn-Murphy has the stage, the support and the anticipation of most Villa fans. He will also stand to earn more money than he can spend in countless lifetimes; if he applies himself.
He’s also incredibly young and a raw talent. One who we’ve seen fleeting glimpses of in the first team, but whom will also have much to learn if he is to make the gigantic leap from Under-23 prodigy to senior professional. It’s a big step up which few make.
That’s not to say he doesn’t have the potential, but Villa Park’s academy is a graveyard of false promise.
Ultimately, it’s up to him to buck the trend.