“They lack the killer instinct!” Mulraine reacts as Naparima axe coaches

Naparima College have parted ways with head coach Travis Mulraine and assistant coach Anthony Sherwood with immediate effect.

Mulraine and his technical staff took over at “Naps” in 2022, after former head coach Angus Eve took up the post as Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach.

Naparima College head coach Travis Mulraine gestures from the sidelines at Lewis Street on 28 October 2023.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

However, Mulraine was not able to bring home a trophy to the most dominant school team of the Secondary School Football League (SSFL) Premier Division era.

Naparima College officials were tight-lipped on the reason for firing their coaching staff. However, Mulraine accepted that only trophies ensure job security at a team like Naps, which lifted four Premier Division titles in eight years.

Naparima finished third in their league group last year and failed to advance to the Big Four, while they were defeated in the South Intercol semifinals to bitter rivals, Presentation College (San Fernando).

Naparima close off their 2023 Premier Division campaign this afternoon away to St Anthony’s College from 3.45pm in Westmoorings. At present, they are a point below the “Pres Lions” in fifth place and can leapfrog them on the last fixture of the league season.

Naparima College forward Tevin Pantor (left) runs at Fatima College defender Yohance Atherton during SSFL Premier Division action at Lewis Street on 28 October 2023.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

However, a win today would not significantly alter their South Intercol itinerary, while their title hopes ended a week ago.

“[It is] par for the course, when you take up a job at a highly successful team,” Mulraine told Wired868. “Results are demanded and if you fail to deliver then you pay the ultimate price.”

Abdallah Phillips, assistant coach at Club Sando, is expected to take up the reins at Naps for the remainder of the season and will steer the southern giants into the National Intercol competition.

Off the field, Naparima officials informed Mulraine of their choice for change yesterday afternoon and the final training session of the school’s 2023 league campaign was conducted by trainer Adarryl John and new goalkeeper coach Michael Maurice (also of Club Sando).

Former Men’s National Under-20 assistant coach Abdallah Phillips.
Photo: TTFA Media

Percy Samlalsingh remains the team manager.

An uncompromising midfielder in his heyday who debuted for the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team at just 17-years-old, Mulraine has been just as fiery as a coach with his post-game criticism of officials and even his own players causing many a stir.

He also had the misfortune of inheriting the post at Naparima while Fatima College and St Benedict’s College were laden with talent, based on a well-funded long-term development plan and sharp recruiting respectively.

However, Mulraine suggested Naparima’s immediate problems go beyond that.

Fatima College midfielder Caden Trestrail starts an attacking under the watchful eye of Naparima College captain Terrell Rajoon during SSFL Premier Division action at Lewis Street on 28 October 2023.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

“Well, obviously teams have their cycles of success,” he said. “You look at Manchester United for example—it’s been 10 years since they were champions of England. At the moment, Manchester City [are] the top team along with Liverpool.

“With that said, I don’t think talent alone is what is needed. Benedict’s and Fatima have a certain killer instinct that is missing at Naps.

“Sometimes when people come in and inherit success and the perks and amenities that come with it, later generations tend to take a lot for granted. The West Indies teams of the mid to late nineties are a prime example.”

Naparima College forward Kanye Francis (third from left) is congratulated by teammates after his goal against St Mary’s College during SSFL Premier Division action at Serpentine Road on 16 September 2023.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

Mulraine suggested too that it is not only the Naparima players who need to take a long, hard look at themselves.

“This killer instinct is not only absent in the players but in the management as well,” said Mulraine. “We have people in management who not man enough to look you in the eye and tell you what they think. You have people allowing players to manipulate them to say when they feel to train and which game they would miss, etc, etc.

“Also, earlier in the season, a meeting was called and players complained about us the coaches (myself more than Sherwood) being too hard on them, being too critical, etc.

Naparima College coach Travis Mulraine (right) tries to get a response from his players during SSFL Premier Division action against St Benedict’s College at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 15 October 2022.
(Photo Daniel Prentice/ Wired868)

“I refused to submit to those players and their nonsense, as I told them they don’t have the leeway to pull stuff like that since they have won nothing. And moreso, whenever we came up against the Benedict’s and Fatimas and Preses, we always fell short.

“After that team talk, I got the call that they were going in an opposite direction regarding the coaching staff.”

Naparima officials declined comment.

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  1. Although Mulraine was wrong to throw his team under the bus in the public domain, it is obvious there are issues with the players attitude. Sherwood is a very good developmental coach so that is a big loss for Naps. This year Naps recruited talent they could not manage.

  2. If it is true that plain talk is bad manners, Travis is in dire need of some broughtupsy.

  3. Mulraine is a man to admire.He stands up for what is right. Maybe he was not fitting in with the culture of the administration of the team.
    I remembered how the great Jan Steadman was fired from NAPS.I was very hurt about that. Jan was a serious man and the children may not have liked that.
    Anyhow Mulraine and Sherwood will move on. The world of football is wide open. Thank you gentlemen.

    From a NAPS supporter since 1967.

    • I fully agree with these sentiments it shows that Naps lacks integrity in the sport. What are the younger players to think if prem players doing this. He spoke his mind as always and that takes character to tell them the hard facts. I applaud you but some ppl don’t like to hear the truth and rather you support their misguided narrative.The technical staff alone cant win trophies the players have to deliver on the ball

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