TRIUMPHANT manager Mick Mulhern is looking to a bright future for Sunderland Women, exclaiming: “We can achieve great things at this club”.
Mulhern’s team yesterday completed a superb hat-trick of Premier League titles with a 2-0 win against Cardiff City.
And they have one game remaining – at home to nearest rivals Leeds United on Sunday – before embarking on a new era of “summer” football in the second division of the Women’s Super League.
That league does not start until March next year, but Mulhern has already been plotting the way ahead for the club.
“Winning the league again is a fantastic achievement,” he said.
“It’s a very sweet feeling, though it has probably not sunk in fully yet.
“We were very disappointed not to get into the Super League three years ago, but we have now won the Premier League three years running and that is down to an awful lot of hard work.
“For me, it’s coming up to 14 years in charge at the club.
“We’ve had three promotions – winning the league – been to an FA Cup final and won the League Cup, and done well when we’ve been in the top division.
“We have had two relegations but that was probably down to other circumstances that we could not control.
“One of the pleasures is seeing the players develop over the years – a lot have come through the Centre of Excellence, so I’ve known them since they were very young. It’s a great group.”
Over the years, Mulhern has had to allow several players leave the club to advance their careers; the likes of senior England internationals Jill Scott, Steph Houghton, Jordan Nobbs and Carly Telford, as well as other Super League regulars Lucy Bronze and Lucy Staniforth.
“I’m extremely proud of all the players who have come through the ranks and what they have achieved in the game,” he added.
“It would have been nice to have had this current group and a few of those we have lost – I think you would be talking about one of the top three teams in the country.”
The challenge now for Mulhern is to prepare his players for a crack at the Super League next year and he is targeting another top-of-the-table finish and a chance to compete in the top division.
“Everyone is looking forward to the Super League,” he said. “We have an excellent squad and a bunch of young girls hungry to step up.
“We’ve had a lot of injuries this season and the way the players responded – both those in the team and those who came in – was excellent. We need to keep the spirit and move forward.
“There has to be a more professional approach from within the club. If we don’t do that, then what’s the point?
“The game is moving on and we need to be aware of that. You can never stand still.”