Friday, 25 July 2014

The New Arrivals - Marc McNulty

This week on A United View we will be hearing about each of United's new arrivals from the fans who watched them last season. Each day we will be hearing the reaction to losing a player and getting an idea of what we can expect in the coming months.

Next is John Maxwell, one of the duo behind TELL HIM HE'S PELÉ a site focused on showcasing the very best writers and commentators to promote an outstanding level of insight and analysis to the Scottish lower leagues. For many Blades this was a go to site when we signed Stefan Scougall, providing insight from the 5 Things We've Learned from match reports and of course his place at the top of the list of the Tell Him He's Pele 25 Superstars of the Lower Leagues.  You can follow them on twitter @telhimhespele

With McNulty yet to pull on the red and white stripes in pre-season, this preview will be a useful guide for Blades fans so we know what to expect when he's fully fit.

Marc McNulty

It was always certain that Marc McNulty would leave Livingston in Scotland's second tier, but the question remained as to  how much would he prosper in a more demanding league and without the service of playmaker Stefan Scougall.  The second part of the question is now redundant with McNulty joining Scougall at Bramall Lane, but the first is as relevant as ever.

Who Sheffield United have signed is a natural predator who plays to the strengths of his game.  McNulty's finishing is as accomplished as any to have graduated from the Scottish lower leagues in recent times, with a knack of leaving a goalkeeper stranded as he finds the corner of the goal with an uncanny regularity.

McNulty's play is all about efficiency.  There is no obvious flair to his game, even if he has the technique for it.  From coming short to pick up the ball from midfield, to spreading the ball wide into the path of an onrushing midfielder, everything is calculated in order for him to time his run into a goalscoring position.  Like Scougall, McNulty carries the ball with his head up and suits a side who will pass short and cut back to the forwards.

That position can be from anywhere within 20 yards to goal.  It doesn't matter the angle or the spin on the ball.  If McNulty cannot strike the football on the bounce for a first-time half-volley into the top corner from the edge of the box , then a simple trap sets him up exquisitely.  The majority of his goals were outrageously accomplished finishes that would leave the goalkeeper stranded, such as the banana shot from inside the box against Queen of the South.

Of the 24 league goals scored by Marc McNulty in his last two seasons at Livingston, nearly two thirds of them were executed with just one touch; the rest of his goals needed no more than two to score.  Only three of those goals were penalties, with McNulty assuming responsibility for taking them toward the end of last season.  On each occasion he shot to the goalkeeper's left and above the goalkeeper's stretching arms.

McNulty's biggest weakness is a lack of aerial prowess and stature to play with his back to goal.  He doesn't have the physique to compete with six foot-plus centre-backs, nor the searing pace to race beyond a full-back, but he makes up for that with wonderful technique and a cunning to be in the right place at the correct moment.

In a team with reliable service from a variety of angles he will thrive.  In that sense, he is the perfect accompaniment to Stefan Scougall.  

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