Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Wrexham Promotion Bid: Can Mullin & McLean Make the Difference?

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Abhinab Ghosh
A 26-year-old sports writer and an aspiring football coach who has road-tripped across the Scottish Highlands, but has never been to Wales. Sucker for cliff-hangers and catchy riffs. Known to be a grunger and not to be a stranger.

Wrexham’s return to the English Football League (EFL) after a 15-year absence was undoubtedly one of the biggest news stories of the 2022/23 season.

The North Wales club went head-to-head with Notts County for most of the National League campaign, before sealing promotion back to League Two in their final home game.

The success was payback for Wrexham’s loyal fans, who saved the club from extinction by staving off the threat of a winding-up order for unpaid taxes in 2011.

Getting back into the EFL proved impossible for Wrexham over the next few years, but their fortunes were transformed when wealthy new owners rocked up at the club.

North American actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney took over the club in 2021 and set about building a team capable of mounting a promotion challenge.

Wrexham failed in their first season under the Hollywood duo, losing a nine-goal thriller against Grimsby Town in the semi-finals of the play-offs.

However, they made no mistake last term, with the team scoring 116 goals on their way to collecting a whopping 111 points.

They went into the new League Two season as the bookmakers’ favourites to make it back-to-back titles, but things have not quite gone to plan to date.

Injuries & Defensive Woes Hit Wrexham’s Hopes

With Reynolds and McElhenney bankrolling the club, the oddsmakers at the leading online sportsbooks took no chances when pricing up Wrexham to win League Two.

They were are a best-priced 7/2 to claim top spot, but suffered a major setback before the start of the campaign after star striker Paul Mullin suffered an injury.

The 28-year-old suffered a punctured lung during the club’s pre-season tour of the United States and has been ruled out for the first few weeks of the campaign.

His absence was felt in Wrexham’s opening game, as the team slipped to a 5-3 defeat against MK Dons at the Racecourse Ground.

Despite that defeat, a big-money move for Republic of Ireland midfielder James McLean demonstrated that Wrexham were serious about winning promotion.

The top Irish betting apps reacted to that move by keeping Wrexham at the head of the outright market, but another blow was just around the corner.

McLean made his debut in a 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon, bit sustained an injury late in the game which ruled hit out of action for a couple of weeks.

Phil Parkinson’s side shrugged off that disappointment to record a 4-2 home victory over Walsall, before sharing the spoils in a ten-goal thriller against Swindon Town.

Wrexham trailed 4-1 and 5-3 against the Robins, but dug deep to score twice in stoppage time and grab an unlikely point.

Veteran goalkeeper Ben Foster called time on his career after the game, leaving Parkinson with another issue to resolve.

Will Mullin & McLean Fire Wrexham up the Table?

Five points from their first four matches has left Wrexham 15th in the standings, but it is much too early to be writing off their hopes of winning League Two.

Upcoming fixtures against Barrow (A), Tranmere Rovers (A) and Doncaster Rovers (H) And Grimsby Town (H) all have the potential to be tricky.

However, a six to eight point haul is certainly not beyond Wrexham and would keep them nicely in touch with the leading teams.

With McLean and Mullin scheduled to return during September, Wrexham would be well placed to live up to the status as the bookies’ favourites to win the league.

Mullin scored 46 goals in all competitions last season and proved he can cut it at this level during his last stint in League Two with Cambridge United.

He netted 32 goals that season to fire United to promotion – form which saw Wrexham push the boat out to sign him in July 2021.

McLean’s return to action will provide Wrexham with another significant boost, with the midfielder boasting a ton of higher-level experience.

The 34-year-old recently won his 100th senior cap for Ireland and remains a talented performer despite reaching the veteran stage of his career.

With Mullin and McLean in their starting XI, Wrexham would possess the necessary firepower and know-how to blow their League Two promotion rivals away.

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