SHOULD ADDICKS SWOOP FOR MULLINS?
By Nic Evans
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Mullins has insisted he is happy to stay at Selhurst Park, but the decision may well be taken out of his hands if the club continues in administration, with players and creditors owed vast sums of money.
Charlton boss Alan Curbishley, a self-confessed admirer of the England under-21 star, has already pinched Svensson for a cut-price £400,000 and could pick up Mullins for around £2.5 million. But does he really need him?
Skipper Mark Kinsella has been partnered by either Keith Jones or Graham Stuart in the centre of midfield this season, but Curbishley may well see Mullins as the man to fill that position permanently should Charlton return to the Premiership as expected.
Mullins, who has played as midfielder and sweeper in two seasons with the Eagles, is a lethal finisher and has better strike rates than any of the Charlton threesome. A quarter of all his shots have struck the back of the net this season and four of his eight goals have come from headers; he is remarkably powerful in the air for a player under six feet tall.
In terms of distribution, Palace are the least accurate passers in Division One and although Mullins has been more pinpoint than most of his team-mates, his 66 per cent pass completion rate falls well short of his Charlton rivals. But this can partly be explained by the fact that he frequently looks to thread balls through the defence for the pacy Clinton Morrison and Leon McKenzie to run on to. These passes are more likely to be intercepted than a short sideways ball.
As you would expect from a player who is just as comfortable in defence as in midfield, he is a fine tackler, easily comparable to Kinsella, and has helped out in defence more than any of the Charlton trio. Certainly he has committed his fair share of fouls, but has picked up just two bookings - a fine effort from a man who has missed just one game this season.
The latest Opta Index shows Mullins sixth in the midfielders chart and he has been as high as third. That`s undoubtedly been helped by his four goals in six games and he has recently been installed as the club`s penalty taker - not surprising given he was Palace`s successful youth team captain.
The administrators at Selhurst Park have already turned down one £2.5 million bid from an unnamed First Division club. A cheeky inquiry from the Addicks about a reported £500,000 bid was met with the response "That wouldn`t even buy Mullins`s shirt!" from joint administrator Simon Patterson this week. So Alan Curbishley is going to have to open the cheque book a little wider if he wants to get his man.