In January, former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Jake Mulraney was one of a host of players, including Glenn Whelan, to exit Scottish Premiership club Hearts after the appointment of new manager Daniel Stendel.
With his side bottom of the league, Stendel decided that he must overhaul the squad as some of their senior players left the club in addition to both Mulraney and fellow Irish underage international Aidan Keena.
Perhaps the most high-profile exit, however, was that of Glenn Whelan, who had his contract mutually terminated by the club despite only joining in the summer.
Stendel publicly criticised the Irish midfielder’s leadership qualities, dropping him from the squad before he eventually exited the club. Whelan outlining in an interview with the Irish Independent that he believed he was thrown under the bus.
Mulraney was a part of the squad during that strange, as he puts it, time at the club and he admitted that Stendel’s criticism of Whelan’s leadership was certainly one of the maddest opinions he’s heard in football.
“It was weird yeah. It was strange. The stuff about Glenn Whelan, that was mad. One of his main attributes would be as a leader and the manager was criticising it.
“It was a bit weird to hear. I suppose he was just going off what he had thought at the time. Everyone has opinions I suppose but I just thought that was one of the maddest ones I’d heard. ”
The 23-year-old played three league games under Stendel but failed to make the squad in his last six games at Tynecastle.
Mulraney explained that he had a chat with the manager who said he expected more from the midfielder, with the criticism something he conceded he had to agree with.
“I had a couple of chats with him. He said he watched a few games beforehand and said that he expected more from me and to be honest I couldn’t agree more. The few games I had for him I was shite.”
Then came the interest from Atlanta United, where he currently plays his football, and for Mulraney, the move came at the perfect time.
“He knew there was interest and he knew I was interested so it was basically just a matter of time before I got out anyway. In the end it worked out great for me. It came around at the best time. There was interest, I fell out of favour with the manager so it worked out for the best really.