Newest Everton signing Ashley Williams spent the bulk of his career at Swansea City, from 2008-through till 2016. During that time up in Wales, the Swans fans have really gotten to know the player very well.
We asked our fellow blogger and good friend Steven, the editor for leading Swansea blog SoS Fanzine, a few questions about Williams, and he was gracious enough to answer them despite being saddened by the Swans’ loss.
Gutted Williams has gone. Legend is so overused these days but he's undoubtedly one of our all time greats— Steven Carroll (@StevenSOS1987) August 10, 2016
1) At age 32 (this month), has Williams been slowing down? Is a 3-year contract a bad idea?
I wouldn't say he's been slowing down but I have to admit that last season was probably the first time his standards had dipped at all during his eight year stay. In the first half of the year when we went on a poor run he cost us more goals than I can ever remember. However he was back to more like normal self in the second half of the year plus the fact that he's never injured means even at close to 32 he more than justifies a three year contract.
2) Is he a vocal leader or just a do-as-I-do type captain? Will he clash with current captain Phil Jagielka?
He can be vocal when he needs to be which was quite often last term but he often leads by example as well. It spends what the team needs at a certain time. Whether he clashes with Jagielka or not can't say but at Swansea there were no issues with him and his centre back partner Garry Monk who was then captain.
3) His defensive abilities in the air are great, but how is he on attacking set pieces?
You'll be disappointed here, not good is the answer. You will all remember his goal at Goodison a couple of years ago I assume. That was his only goal from September 2011 to January 2016. Swansea are renown for being awful at set pieces. No surprise it came against a Roberto Martinez side, a man who I'm sure you're all aware is equally hopeless at setting his teams up at set plays. On a lighter note though he did add another goal in March and one for Wales at the Euro's so maybe he's turning over a new leaf!
4) What is his ball distribution like coming out of the back?
Very good, it's one of his biggest strengths. He hasn’t tended to bring the ball out as much in recent years but he is capable of dribbling a few yards up the pitch which can be an advantage, this mostly happened under Brendan Rodgers.
5) Conversely, how is he defending on the counterattack?
If we're caught on the counter it's usually because players like him have gone forward and with our hopeless set piece record we are obviously vulnerable to this. My advice would be don't let him go forward in these situations as he rarely gets on the end of anything.
6) How dependent was the Swans' system (and Williams’ performance) on having a midfielder or two shielding the defence?
It's how we've played for years now and it's hugely important. Leon Britton is the master at this, through our early years at this level I always felt vulnerable but now Jack Cork is a worthy long term successor. This position is key for all clubs who play with our style.
As always, thank you to Steven, and looking forward to our next chat once the season gets underway.