Furious Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson blasts Nathan Bishop’s challenge on Paul Mullin but United fear reaction could drive online abuse

Manchester United were on the end of a scathing attack from Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson after a shocking challenge on Paul Mullin that put his star striker in hospital with a punctured lung.

Mullin will miss the start of the new season after being poleaxed by United goalkeeper Nathan Bishop during his side’s 3-1 defeat by the League Two club at the SnapDragon Stadium in San Diego in the early hours of Wednesday.

Bishop issued an apology to Mullin on Twitter after reaching out to the Wrexham dressing room and insisted there had been no malice intended.

But Parkinson suggested the 23-year-old goalkeeper would be best off giving them a wide berth amid fury at the 12th-minute challenge.

“I’m fuming about it, I’ve got to be honest with you,” Parkinson said. “It was a clumsy, reckless, challenge in a pre-season game and I’m not happy with it at all. I haven’t seen the goalie and he’s probably best steering clear of us for the time being because we’re not very happy.”

Bishop collides with Mullin during the pre-season friendly in San Diego - Wrexham fury after Manchester United goalkeeper punctures lung of star striker

Bishop collides with Mullin during the pre-season friendly in San Diego Credit: Getty Images/Sean M Haffey

Mullin lies in pain after the collision with Bishop - Wrexham fury after Manchester United goalkeeper punctures lung of star striker

Mullin lies in pain after the collision with Bishop Credit: AMA/Matthew Ashton

Paul Mullin uses an oxygen mask as he is helped off - Wrexham fury after Manchester United goalkeeper punctures lung of star striker

Mullin uses an oxygen mask as he is helped off Credit: Getty Images/Matthew Ashton

Parkinson’s comments are understood to have been dimly received by United, who feel the Wrexham manager has been guilty of needlessly inflaming a difficult situation. United are concerned that Parkinson’s remarks are the type that will serve only to drive online abuse towards Bishop and they stress that it was an accidental challenge from a young player who had moved quickly to apologise.

Bishop, part of a youthful United side on the night, had made no attempt to play the ball as he rushed out and clattered Mullin and Wrexham’s anger was compounded by referee Mark Allatin’s failure to send him off.

Bishop escaped with a yellow card, with Mullin being fitted with an oxygen match during six minutes of treatment.

“It’s a clumsy challenge from the goalkeeper, I’m disappointed with that,” Parkinson added. “It should have been a straight red. If it’s not denying a goal-scoring opportunity it’s still a dangerous challenge so if you add the two scenarios together he should have been off the pitch. It’s a dangerous challenge and obviously Paul Mullin is our talisman.”

Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson wasn’t happy with the ManU goalie’s hit on Paul Mullin. Says Mullin had a punctured lung and went to hospital, but Parkinson was happy with how team responded. pic.twitter.com/QgvqTe0VSL

— Brandon Stone (@BStoneKUSI) July 26, 2023

Bishop posted an apology to Mullin on Twitter and said there was no malicious intent in his challenge: “Just wanted to share my sincerest apologies to @‌PMullin7. A complete misjudgement and a genuine accident with 0 malicious intent at all!”

Mullin, 28, was treated by medical staff from both teams as concerned players looked on. He was fitted with an oxygen mask and required six minutes of treatment before finally getting to his feet.

The striker - who scored 46 goals in 51 games last season as Wrexham were promoted as National League champions – was grimacing repeatedly as he walked gingerly off the pitch, pausing occasionally to use the oxygen mask.

A Wrexham physiotherapist accompanied Mullin to hospital for assessment. Initial tests revealed a punctured lung but Parkinson said they would not know the full extent of the injury until he had been seen by a specialist and undergone further assessment.

Wrexham are due to kick off their League Two season at home to MK Dons on August 5 but Parkinson expects the striker to miss the start of the season.

“Yeah, I think when you’ve got a punctured lung and you’ve got 10 days to stay fit you’re saying no,” the manager said.

Asked if he knew how long Mullin might be out for, Parkinson added: “No, not at all. We just got a call from the hospital to say there’s a small puncture in his lung. It’ll probably be tomorrow morning before we get the specialist to have a look at it.

“I haven’t really spoken to the lads as a group yet but we all stick together and we will give Paul every bit of support we can to get back as fit as possible. One thing about Mulls is he’s tough.”

Mullin posted a message on social media from his hospital bed that read: “Thank you for all your messages! All good here!”

‌Bishop booed by partisan crowd

United fielded a predominantly under-21 side against Wrexham, with Erik ten Hag watching on from the dugout. Ten Hag is due to fly to Houston on Wednesday to join up with the rest of the first team squad ahead of their game against Real Madrid at the NRG Stadium.

Travis Binnion, United’s under-21 lead coach who took charge of the team, said Bishop’s challenge was out of character and that the goalkeeper had sought to reach out to Mullin and the Wrexham players.

“Obviously there’s a challenge in the first half when Mullin gets injured, we hope he’s all right,” Binnion said. “I know Bish has reached out to him already and the referee could have sent him off for that.”

The 34,248 crowd – which included Wrexham co-owner Rob McElhenney, the actor – reacted badly to the referee’s failure to send off Bishop and began booing the goalkeeper whenever he touched the ball. Bishop was substituted at half-time in a planned change for Radek Vitek but appeared visibly affected by the situation.

Nathan Bishop looked to be affected by the incident - Wrexham fury after Manchester United goalkeeper punctures lung of star striker

Bishop looked to be affected by the incident before being substituted at half-time Credit: Getty Images/Sean M Haffey

Nathan Bishop - Wrexham fury after Manchester United goalkeeper punctures lung of star striker

Bishop was booed by some sections of the crowd after the collision Credit: Getty Images/Sean M Haffey

“It’s part and parcel of the game, nobody wants to see anyone get injured,” Binnion said. “He’s made an honest challenge, he’s come off worse. He’s already reached out to him.

“Booing him, it is what it is. He’s tried to reach out. He’s a great lad Bish, he hasn’t got a bad bone in his body.”

United reduced to 10 men

Parkinson said it was too early to say whether Wrexham would enter the transfer market to find a replacement for Mullin.

“We’ll assess things tonight, find out the extent of the injury and then make decisions accordingly,” he said. “Billy Walters came on and put an incredible shift in for us, Dalbs [Sam Dalby] has got a goal, Palms [Ollie Palmer] is looking fitter than he’s ever done. We’ve got options but we can’t hide away from it. Mulls is an outstanding player.”

Parkinson praised the reaction of the team to losing Mullin so early on. “The way the lads responded after that I thought was outstanding,” he said. “That’s what we’re all about as a group – resilience, sticking together. And that’s what we showed tonight.”

Parkinson admitted Mullin’s injury had put something of a dampener on their promotional tour of the US, which included a game against Chelsea in North Carolina and Los Angeles Galaxy’s second string in Carson.

“Yeah of course losing a key player in pre-season, you want to get back on the plane with a fully fit squad, and obviously we’re not going to be able to do that. Injuries are part and parcel of football, we’ve dealt with injuries before and we will deal with this one.”

Despite there being more United shirts in the crowd in San Diego, Wrexham received more backing on the night and Parkinson paid tribute to the supporters for the reception they gave his side. Wrexham have attracted a growing number of followers in the US thanks to the hit documentary, Welcome to Wrexham, which charts the club’s rise since their takeover by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and McElhenney in 2021.

“It was an incredible night for us to come to this stadium,” Parkinson said. “With all the support we’ve had in the area there was a little bit of pressure on us, a bit of expectancy and I thought we took a little while to settle into the game but we grew into it and got better and better and showed the crowd what we’re about as a team.

“I’m just so proud of the team tonight, the way we played.”

United had midfielder Dan Gore sent off early in the second half after he and Wrexham’s Andy Cannon challenged for the ball. It looked a harsh decision and Parkinson believes the referee may have been trying to compensate for his failure to send off Bishop.

“Whether the ref was feeling a bit bad he didn’t send the keeper off and it was because of that… but you’ve got to learn how to play against 10 men, we controlled the game and got the third goal which killed it off,” he said.

Ten Hag was not particularly impressed by what he saw from United against Wrexham. “We’re disappointed with ourselves. First half how we played was a little bit erratic to the structure. We had some objectives that was not to do with the result and we have to learn from it and I’m sure they will do.

“This is what you don’t face in youth football. This is man football and it’s really good they had this experience. It’s negative but you learn from it. As Man United players you have to deal with the pressure from the crowd so even in negative moments you learn.”