It’s not every day you receive a personal message of support from an A-list Hollywood star.
But that’s exactly what Nathan Bishop experienced as Ryan Reynolds chose to intervene in the row between Manchester United and Wrexham, following the two sides’ pre-season friendly in San Diego.
Wrexham won the match 3-1 against a United side entirely comprised of reserve team and youth players. And Jonny Evans.
Ten Hag lamented the performance by his players, who were subject to a level of physicality and intensity they struggled to acclimate to. “This is men’s football,” their manager succinctly remarked.
The Snapdragon stadium was sold-out with a raucous crowd of 34,248 in attendance. Ten Hag believes this experience will help the younger players to learn how to “deal with the pressure of the crowd”; a prerequisite to be able to perform successfully at United.
One particular moment in the first half, however, caused concern for every person in the stadium, whether their allegiance was to United or Wrexham.
Nathan Bishop, United’s goalkeeper, collided with Paul Mullin, Wrexham’s heroic goalscorer last season, in an awful late challenge. The forward would crumple to the ground with medical staff quickly taking to the field.
Mullin was able to slowly walk off the pitch but required an oxygen mask to do so. He would later be diagnosed with a punctured lung and will miss the start of Wrexham’s entrance back into the English football league next season.
His manager, Phil Parkinson, was furious.
In the aftermath of the match, when asked about the incident, he described Bishop’s challenge as “reckless” and, somewhat unprofessionally, warned the goalkeeper to “steer clear” of Wrexham.
United staff were reportedly “unhappy” with these comments, believing them to have exacerbated the situation and potentially opened Bishop up to online abuse.
The goalkeeper appeared “visibly shaken” as he left the pitch at half-time, but was immediate in tweeting a public apology to Mullin following the game. Bishop would also reach out personally to the injured forward, via other Wrexham players, to reiterate this message.
Just wanted to share my sincerest apologies to @PMullin7 A complete misjudgement and a genuine accident with 0 malicious intent at all!
Wishing you the speediest recovery and hope to see you back scoring goals as soon as possible!
— nath (@natthb13) July 26, 2023
Ryan Reynolds, co-owner of Wrexham, praised the manner in which Bishop handled the aftermath of the incident. Acting as a “peacekeeper”, Reynolds personally contacted Bishop to acknowledge his post-match actions and “wished him luck for the future.”
Parkinson’s comments, though inflammatory, are understandable in the heat of the moment; watching your talismanic forward struggle to breathe will affect any manager. United’s response is one of a club defending one of their own, despite the unfortunate repercussions of their player’s challenge.
Reynolds’ words will have helped to quell any lingering feelings of animosity between the clubs, and been a comforting experience for an evidently remorseful Bishop. A classy move.