Mike Williamson joined us from Portsmouth on an emergency loan deal to enable him to play for us that night against Crystal Palace in what was thankfully our brief spell in the Championship.
Williamson played the full ninety minutes of football and impressed many with his performance after a slow start; thus gaining the man of the match award.
He became a big part of the squad during that half of the Championship season helping us on our way to the title and he cemented himself a strong partnership with Fabricio Coloccini and put in performances that displayed his ability.
We had been chasing the player for some time and the club tried to encourage him to join us, but the lure of Premier League football at Portsmouth for Williamson was key. However his time at Portsmouth was not as fortuitous as first thought. He made no appearances for the club and there was a problem with the financial situation between Watford and Portsmouth. If Williamson had played in a game then Portsmouth would have had to pay Watford more money in transfer fees. Portsmouth could not afford this and Williamson never played for the club.
Mike Williamson started out life back in the Premier League as a first choice centre back with our new captain Fabricio Coloccini. He made his long awaited debut at Old Trafford for our first game of the season and although we lost Williamson showed that he was not afraid to tackle the likes of Rooney and co.
The Coloccini and Williamson partnership was, in my opinion, our strongest centre-back partnership. They both seemed to know how he each other played and each of their styles complemented the ways that they played. The partnership always looked solid and whenever I saw the two of them play together I felt safe with the way they dealt with the oncoming opposition.
However when Colo was suspended he put in stellar performances to stop the opposition from gaining any advantage over us. He was particularly key in the Arsenal game where we won 1-0; he was a rock in defence, dealing with the balls that Arsenal tried to break through our defence with.
The only feat that Williamson hasn’t managed yet is scoring his first goal for NUFC. He has come close many times and is dangerous from set pieces due to his 6ft 4in size. No doubt he will break his duck soon.
Unfortunately Williamson’s season was curtailed by injury. A freak training ground injury sustained whilst in the clubs gym facilities meant that the defender required an operation on a broken forearm. It meant that Williamson missed the last three games of our season which, for a player that had played such a big part of the season, left many wondering just how we would cope without him.
However Steven Taylor had a renaissance in Williamson’s absence. He had his opportunity to prove to Alan Pardew that he could become a regular starter for the team. Although he put in some fantastic performances, the ability of scoring in all of three of his starts clearly shows that he wants to cement that first choice centre-back place down.
However Taylor has had his faults over a numbers of years. The most iconic being when he went down as if he had been to shot so that he did not get sent off. That didn’t actually help and he was subsequently sent off anyway. Taylor also seems to like the theatrics whenever he heads the ball, doing a diving header when it is not necessary. For his faults there are times when Taylor can play brilliantly. The only other thing I’m not sure on is his partnership with Coloccini – it just doesn’t look right at all.
Although it’s not goals that win you a place in a team it’s how you perform when facing an opponent and that’s where I have my worries with Taylor. Yes he’s scored for us but is he a better defender than Williamson? I’ll leave you all to debate that but in my opinion I think Williamson edges it for me. His positional play is better and his height gives him a great advantage.
Pre-season will give us a chance to see how both of these centre-backs perform. Coloccini will always be the starter but the conundrum is who partners him in defence. It’s exciting to see them compete but only one of them will gain that starting place. We will have to wait and see who is able to show Alan Pardew that they are the player who should start with Captain Colo.
It certainly should be an interesting pre-season!