Note: "Better than four pounds of bacon" comes directly from the mouth of Brian Dunseth during last night's broadcast, and it's quite an excellent thing to say.
Coming into a tight, veteran side is never easy for a player, particularly one who hasn't played at the level to which they're moving. Higher, lower — it doesn't matter; there will always be difficult moments of transition.
Somehow, our singular British player (every good side needs one, I guess) has avoided the most difficult parts of transition. With two goals — both quick rebound moments — and an assist — that one coming last night with a bit of skill — he's slotted right into the side.
We've seen this sort of thing before, though. Players come in, get the system relatively quickly, but struggle to maintain their level. Sometimes it's fitness, sometimes it's attitude, sometimes it's just a dip in form that's difficult to recover from. There are players pushing on all sides for a starting spot, and once you lose it, it can be hard to regain it.
Mulholland could well suffer from those things, but unlike other players that have suffered after coming in well — Jonny Steele or Arturo Alvarez, for recent examples — he's very much a round peg in a round hole. He's comfortable going wide and controlling possession, and he's comfortable slotting inside. He has no issue covering for his fullback. He's essentially the same sort of midfielder in the diamond that we had in Will Johnson.
He's clearly not there yet. He has fitness issues to deal with — he's shown fatigue in the second half every time he's started, prompting a substitution from the 60th to 70th minutes. He's not yet a 90-minute player in our side. Our midfield roles are incredibly demanding, so that's really not a surprise. He has to get forward quickly, get back quickly, move wide, move centrally — there's not room for complacency. In that way, he fits perfectly, and he gives everything he's got. It's simply the case that what he's got isn't quite enough yet. Once it is, he'll push very, very hard for a starting spot when everyone's fit.
For your patience, here's a bit of skill from Mulholland.