With the 2021/2022 FA Women’s Championship season over and Sunderland having secured another year in the second tier of women’s football, it’s time to stop and reflect.
Want to learn more about your favourite footballer or fun facts about some of the lasses biggest stars? Then look no further....
This summer, Roker Report is profiling some of the SAFC Women players by asking them some interesting questions, delving into their stats, and sharing our thoughts on them as both players and as people.
Where were you born?: I was born in Durham, England
Former teams you’ve played for (youth/school/club etc): I started out playing for the local boys' team at Coxhoe United U8s then moved over to the girls’ team at about U11s. I started playing for Sunderland Centre of Excellence U13s and have been at Sunderland ever since, going through the development team and then first team.
Favourite food: I like everything! But if I had to choose it would be any type of Spanish/ tapas dish.
Favourite music genre/artist/band: I love ‘70s and ‘80s music. There is never a bad song
Who inspired or inspires you?: It has to be my dad who inspired and inspires me still now. He has always taught me to work hard, be committed and to believe in myself.
What would you sing on the team bus karaoke? Oh, it would be a Whitney Houston song. It has to be a power ballad. Something which gets everyone else joining in and singing along!
Do you have any superstitions or prematch rituals?: I don’t have any superstitions as such, but each week I try to keep my match preparations exactly the same.
Any other hobbies: Football being the main one, I also enjoy running, working out and socialising with friends and family. But working full-time as a teacher and part-time as a footballer doesn’t always allow me much free time
Who is your favourite women’s footballer past or present? I would have to say Lucy Bronze due to her supportive play and work ethic. She also plays in the same position as me and I would love to try and emulate her play style
Fun fact about yourself or hidden talent: Sorry but I don’t think I have anything interesting, I’m pretty boring haha!
If you weren’t playing football, what do you think you would do or want to do? I would do what I’m doing now, working as a Primary School Teacher. I love my job and working with children so would still be something similar to that!
Mullen has the engine and speed to match the team’s needs and perform to today’s modern full-back standards. Almost all of her defensive strengths are fuelled by her athleticism and drive to push forward and press, she is a powerful one-on-one defender who is both proactive in engaging wingers in wide areas and difficult to beat due to great acceleration and anticipation over short distances.
In the footage below, you can see just how often Mullen makes off-the-ball runs to get forward and how often and long she carries the ball forward.
Mullen’s tackling style is measured; she rarely dives in and prefers to stand opponents up before charging at the ball. She also enjoys defending on the offensive end, jockeying attackers before bursting into action to intercept loose or wayward passes.
Her game is built around technical prowess and tactical awareness, rather than focusing on flashy talents or dribbles to outshine her opponents. It is that technical and tactical prowess that distinguishes her from the pack. While that is an important aspect of her game, she also has excellent vision and can read the game well.
Mullen monitors the field frequently and is aware of opponents’ movement, which she reacts to fast, such as dropping off to cover a run into depth or pushing up to close space and apply pressure.
Overall, Mullen is a sharp defender who knows how to position herself to efficiently defend a variety of evolving situations, without overcommitting or under-committing herself.
That much is clear from her one-on-one defence. Mullen’s tackling style is described as methodical. Her high-level athleticism and outstanding defensive awareness work in tandem to great effect.
With solid posture and technique, she closes out to the ball, widening her base for balance and keeping her hips open to allow for quick changes in terms of player direction and ball movement. Instead of diving in or standing back, she uses her exceptional footwork and movement to match her opponent each step of the way.
Neve Herron piece done and published ✅— Charlotte Patterson (@kirbyhazard) June 3, 2022
Megan Beer piece done and awaiting publication ✅
Now onto @Faye_Mullen, coming soon
Here are some of her highlights from this season. I absolutely love her acceleration and how she drives forward with the ball
️ Wyscout pic.twitter.com/TnQIVbCX0j
Mullen exudes a hardworking demeanour and has a great engine and can charge down the wing, making her a threat attacking down the right flank as well as reliable defensive cover She makes excellent use of her quickness and strong build when engaging in a one-on-one physical confrontation.
She can be a dangerous offensive threat if she can explode into space with or without possession. She prefers to stretch the play as wide as possible in search of opportunities to cross into the box and attacking area and has a fantastic ability to strike targets with crosses and cutbacks.
Mullen has strong in-game awareness and makes excellent forward runs. The 23-year-old knows when to underlap and overlap, but is also content to remain still if midfielders commit. She sometimes feints to join the assault before ghosting in unnoticed, either at the back post or as an extra player in risky spots to cause overloads.
In the offensive phase, she roves about the half-space to provide herself alternatives inside and out due to her proclivity towards coming inside. Her final-third vision is keen, and while she can play on the outside like a traditional wing-back, it is from these inside positions that she performs the most eye-catching creative work, such as sliding passes in between defenders for teammates making runs beyond the defensive line or playing teasing crosses into space in the far post area.
Mullen isn’t a particularly high-volume or dangerous crosser as an attacker, but her ability to get into advanced areas is outstanding. Her overlapping moves are well-timed, and she knows how to angle her runs inward to assault defences. She has also demonstrated that she can be a threat when holding high and wide positions and making strong depth runs.
Mullen is a flexible right back in terms of style and skill level, and she can play a variety of roles with varying duties, depending on how the team is set up. A fantastic player and an asset to have as Sunderland Women continues to evolve as a team.
2021-22 Season Stats (Averages)
- 17 Appearances in all comps
- 46.64 Total Actions
- 0.17 Shots
- 23.74 Passes
- 52.7% Passing Accuracy
- 3.36 Long Passes
- 2.18 Crosses
- 1.43 Dribbles
- 16.36 Duels
- 1.68 Aerial Duels
- 5.87 Interceptions
- 7.63 Recoveries
Ed’s Note [Rich]: As Charlotte has described in detail in this profile. Faye Mullen is another member of the Lasses squad who is quietly vital to the way we play, brining energy and drive to the right flank.
At 23 she’s already gained a decent amount of experience coming through the ranks with Sunderland, and is clearly trusted by Mel Reay to always do a job for the team, but she is also still developing as a footballer.
Her commitment to the cause, despite the demands of a full-time career outside the game, will be important to her moving on to the next level this season as we look to move up the ranks in the Barclay’s Championship.