Newcastle star questions mental resolve as promotion race hots up

Daryl Murphy in action against Ipswich
Daryl Murphy in action against Ipswich

Daryl Murphy says there are no excuses for Newcastle United’s abject defeat at Portman Road – and questioned whether it may have been a mental issue.

Muprhy netted against his former club Ipswich Town in the club’s 3-1 Easter Monday defeat.

The result has left second-placed United needing five points from their remaining three games to guarantee promotion to the Premier League.

Murphy admitted Newcastle were nowhere near their best at Portman Road, where they were punished for a series of mistakes.

The defeat followed a 1-1 home draw against Leeds United on Good Friday.

“The last game we played (against Leeds), we were brilliant,” said Murphy.

“We were unfortunate to concede so late on, but I don’t think there are any excuses (against Ipswich). We just weren’t good enough all over the pitch.

“We need to be better than that. We’ve got three games left now. We just need to make sure we start picking up points.

“We all know we’re better than that. We just didn’t perform. Whether that’s a mental thing or not, I don’t know.

“The first half was pretty poor, so we’re obviously disappointed with not getting three points and the way we played.”

Asked about the mood in the dressing room, Murphy added: “It was just very down. Everyone was very disappointed. We know we’re much better than that. There are some very good players in that dressing room.”

Murphy’s strike took his goal tally for the season to six.

The 34-year-old, signed from Ipswich last summer, didn’t celebrate the goal out of respect for his old club, who are no safe from the threat of relegation.

“I knew before the game that if I scored, I wouldn’t celebrate,” said the Republic of Ireland international. “I had some good times here.

“It was a bit of respect. The goal was for nothing, really. At the end of the day, we still lost.

“We all know it was going to be a tough game. I’ve always said if I ever had to play against Ipswich, it would be a hard game. They’re a physical and hard-working side with some good players in it.

“They made it difficult for us. But we were nowhere near what we can be and what we should be.

“We can’t have any complaints about the result, as we weren’t good enough.”

United are six points ahead of third-placed Reading, while Huddersfield Town – who have a game in hand – are a further point adrift.

And Newcastle’s fate remains in their own hands ahead of the visit of Preston North End to St James’s Park on April 24.

“We can’t do anything about what the other teams do,” said Murphy. “It’s in our own hands. We just know we need to win the games and take maximum points.

“We know if we pick up maximum points, we’re there.

“We need to start doing it soon. We’ve got a bit of time to get our heads right and be fully focused.”