The rise and rise of Mariner Michael McGlinchey

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    Michael McGlinchey's quest to move to Wellington has raised issues about player compensation and club ownership. (Photo by Paul Barkley/LookPro)

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    One-time former Celtic midfielder Michael McGlinchey surely has to be now one of the best players in the A-League.

    At times 2012-2013 has seemed like his own coming out party, a period when of the best-kept secrets of the competition was emphatically announced to the footballing world.

    In a club with seemingly no stars, McGlinchey has arguably become the key name at the Central Coast Mariners.

    The Wellington-born, Glasgow-raised diminutive footballer has racked up 26 appearances for the club this season, scoring six goals and setting up seven others.

    His high-energy, lung-bursting play has been a consistent feature of Graham Arnold’s side. Dynamic, versatile and fast, McGlinchey has been the linchpin.

    Many pundits predicted the wheels might have fallen off the Mariners wagon when Tommy Rogic departed overseas. But the adaptable McGlinchey, often thrown in at 10, has made sure the attacking play of the team didn’t miss a beat.

    A product of Celtic’s academy, there is a lot to like about the 26-year-old.

    Quietly spoken and small in stature, it is his ability that has loomed large over the A-League.

    This is a guy who can play anywhere across the midfield, at home in the centre or out wide, is adept at scoring goals as well as creating them not to mention being able to beat his opponents with both skill and speed.

    Hell, he could even do a job at right back. His movement off the ball, let along his exquisite dribbling, is a joy to watch.

    For a player who couldn’t quite make it in the Scottish Premier League, but who was reportedly offered a contract with Manchester United as a 17-year-old, McGlinchey has come a long way.

    Joining the Mariners in 2009, the Kiwi international has gotten better every season since arriving at Bluetongue Stadium.

    The playmaker quietly goes about his business, drifting in and out at important moments often to deliver a killer blow.

    Tony Walmsley, a former first-team assistant and National Youth League coach at the Mariners now head of academy recruitment at Sheffield United in the UK, is an unabashed McGlinchey fan.

    “He can play anywhere,” Walmsley says.

    “It’s been remarkable his improvement since he joined the club. He’s still young and there’s lots of improvement in him.”

    Walmsley believes McGlinchey will be a key for the Mariners in Sunday’s grand final, and it’s hard to argue.

    If McGlinchey fires at Allianz Stadium, the Wanderers will be in trouble. There’s little doubt that Tony Popovic’s men will have done their homework on him.

    While his All White compatriot Marcos Rojas gets all the plaudits (McGlinchey polled fourth behind Rojas in the Johnny Warren Medal voting), the 26-year-old quietly goes about his business.

    If this stellar run of form continues it won’t be any surprise to see him soon move overseas at some stage, despite having two more years to run on his Mariners contract. If the Kiwis hadn’t snapped him up he would probably be a Socceroo by now.

    Michael Ryan McGlinchey, the slight midfield magician with the Glaswegian burr. Remember the name come April 21, he’s sure to have a big impact.

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