There’s been a wave of rumour this weekend over the future of Morecambe striker Paul Mullin, with him being heavily linked with a move to the Imps. In the absence of a blog yesterday, I thought I’d have a look at Mullin, and what he has done so far in his career.
He was born in Litherland on Merseyside, and he spent the bulk of his youth at Liverpool. However, like many young players he was released at the age of sixteen. A trial materialised at Racing Santander in Spain, but that ultimately fell through. He became the feature of a Liverpool Echo story about ‘life after the Reds’, where he spoke of his release.
“At the time it (being released) was really tough to take. All my family had put so much into helping me to do well there and when it didn’t work out everyone was down. My uncle sorted me out with a trial at Racing Santander and I stayed there for a month and a half that summer. But they were in administration and said they couldn’t afford to offer me anything so I came back. I was disheartened and was thinking ‘where do I go from here?’”
Mullin, who played in the same under 16 side as Raheem Sterling, was encouraged to sign up to an innovative full-time programme at the University of Liverpool, where as well as training and playing matches youngsters worked towards achieving GCSE, A-Level and FA coaching qualifications. That worked really well for the young player, and he soon won a contract at Huddersfield Town.
Whilst at the McAlpine he impressed in the under 21’s, but he never made the step up to the first team. In the summer of 2014 he was again released having not made the grade at a second club. His endeavour hadn’t gone unnoticed though, and he signed for Morecambe after a successful trial. Manager Jim Bentley was full of praise for his new signing.
“Paul has been excellent since he came here. He has looked sharp up front and scored a couple of good goals in the games. He is young and hungry to do well and we look forward to working with him. He may only be 19 but he is strong and you can tell he has had a good football education as well and I am looking forward to working with him.”
He made his league debut in August 2014, coming off the bench to score a dramatic 84th minute winner as Morecambe overcame Newport 3-2 after being two goals down. He made his first start a week later scoring twice in a 2-1 win at Cambridge. Three goals in his first seven matches earned him a three-year deal, something almost unheard of at that level. Jim Bentley was again delighted to have secured the player on a long contract.
“He’s got unbelievable potential, is scoring goals already and has got great desire to work hard. He still needs to improve in certain areas. He’s still not used to this level of football, he’s come from reserve and academy football into Saturday afternoon at three o’clock football in League 2 which is a totally different speed of game. He’ll get better week-on-week in that respect but he’s got great potential. He’s hungry for success, hungry to improve, to score goals and I think the Morecambe fans have already seen how good he is and they’ll be thankful we’ve got him tied up because I’m sure over the coming months there’ll be bigger clubs watching him.”
If those bigger clubs did start watching him they might have been disappointed. After a thrilling start to his Morecambe career, he only scored five more all season, including three in six at the end of the season. His potential was there for all to see though, and the following season he bagged 10 in 47 appearances. He did find it increasingly hard to get regular starts though, often coming off the bench. This past season he once again scored 10 in 47 appearances, but in total of his 140 Morecambe outings only 67 have been starts, the other 73 have been as a substitute.
Interestingly he has started 22 of their 24 games since the turn of the year, suggesting that he has developed into a first team player. It was on one of those starts in March this year that he won the Sky Bet League Two goal of the month award. His 25-yard curler was the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Shrimps at Leyton Orient, and EFL judge Don Goodman was full of praise for his goal.
“When he picks up a difficult ball, Mullin still has a huge amount to do. The goal displayed strength to hold his man off, skill to outwit three defenders, and accuracy and power in the strike. It was a goal good enough to win any game.”
Mullin himself was happy with the effort too.
“I was made up to get the goal and getting a result at Orient set up a good month for us. It was one of those where nothing else was on and I managed to get a bit of space for myself, so I just hit it and thankfully it went in.”
At 22-years old he still has that early potential, and having been schooled at Liverpool he is clearly going to have something about him. Jim Bentley is a good young manager who has helped bring Mullin into regular first team football, is it now the time for a change of scenery and approach? Twenty seven goals across three seasons isn’t entirely prolific, but with youth on his side it does show he has developed and grown. He’s strong and combative, although at 5’10” he is very much the ‘little man’ to Rheady’s ‘big man’ role. Despite his relatively diminutive stature I’m told he can hold the ball up well and bring others into play as well as bagging goals.
I think we’re likely to hear news tomorrow of players starting to come in, and we need at least two strikers. Mullin does seem to fit the bill as the type of player Danny and Nicky like, young and hungry with lots of potential. Like Josh Ginnelly and Harry Anderson, Mullin has had a good upbringing at a professional club and perhaps now needs the right guidance to bring him on.