When Ashley Williams was identified as a potential Everton recruit in the summer of 2016, the rationale for the move was roundly — if not unanimously — accepted as a sound one.
Roberto Martinez and the Everton board had dug their heels in the previous year when Chelsea lodged a series of bids for John Stones and the idea of trying to keep the want-away young defender when Manchester City came calling 12 months later was futile. He wanted to move on and even in the knowledge that his value would probably keep rising, £47.5m was too good to turn down.
Besides, it was felt that what Everton needed at the time to augment the squad that Ronald Koeman had inherited following a horrendous season from a defensive point of view was an experienced and committed centre-half. What better than a seasoned captain of club and country with the reputation, at least, of being a tough-tackling, unflinching defender to help usher in some new-found solidity under a new manager? After all, hadn’t Williams just demonstrated for Wales at Euro2016 the kind of fire and dedication to the cause that Goodison Park sorely needed?
It’s fair to say that for whatever reason, Williams has never fully lived up to either his billing or reputation in an Everton jersey or ever looked entirely settled with the Blues. Perhaps it was a passion and commitment for Swansea City and Wales that elevated his game to that of one of the most dependable defenders in the Premier League but Everton did not get the player they thought they were buying 18 months ago.
He has shown flashes of that previous form here and around November when the reins were passed from David Unsworth to Sam Allardyce he and Mason Holgate looked to be the Blues’ best central defensive partnership. Too often, however when the chips have been down — before under Koeman and since under Allardyce — and Everton have sorely needed a leader, both by example and deed, and a rock at the back Williams has often gone missing.
Worse than that, he has undermined the cause at times, as he nearly did against Lyon earlier this season when he should have been sent off for sparking a meleé that spilled into the crowd and then actually did on Saturday at Burnley — first, by abandoning his responsibilities in marking Chris Wood for the Clarets’ winning goal and then, by being sent off for throwing an elbow at Ashley Barnes six minutes later.
Williams has spoken of the need and the challenge of managing one’s emotion and aggression on the field and, for him personally, using his experience to straddle the fine line between remaining in control and losing control.
“If I think of some of the better games I have played in my career I was probably, as you say, heated,” he explained to David Prentice in the Liverpool Echo prior to the Anfield derby in December. “but because of the environment you are in, if you didn’t keep a check on it and control it a little bit it would probably go over the top. And that’s not me.
“You need to be a bit mindful of where you are at emotionally on the day. It’s something I have thought about many a time — to try and control it — but sometimes, when you are out of control, somehow you end up playing a better game I feel.
“It could be a fracas or something and suddenly you’re not thinking, you are reacting. It might be the referee, an opposition player or one of your own team-mates.
“Sometimes you can use that it a good way, but as an experienced player you want to be more in control so that you can use your knowledge. You don’t want to lose yourself in the emotion of the game.”
At times, the pent-up energy has exploded in a volcanic goal celebration — see last season against Arsenal — while at others it’s either been strangely lacking or, as was the case at Turf Moor, it has boiled over as frustration and indiscipline. Williams was caught reacting to a situation at an offensive corner in which he appeared to be caught in the eye by a flailing arm and lashed out, earning a straight red card from referee Chris Kavanagh. But just a minute earlier, he had thrown an elbow at Wood in a more innocuous incident unseen by the officials. Clearly frustration — with the imminent defeat and, perhaps, his own dereliction of duty — had got the better of him.
It’s understandable to a point but unforgivable, for the simple reason that Williams was wearing the captain’s armband against Burnley and had a higher duty to keep himself in check. That the sight of him disappearing down the tunnel for an early bath just epitomised Everton’s lack of collective responsibility and discipline, both in this match and in this torrid season as a whole, just made it worse.
It’s also why, at least until Phil Jagielka returns (and, even then, probably beyond) the team captaincy should be handed to Seamus Coleman now that he is fit again, a player whose longevity at Goodison and commitment to Everton Football Club makes him far more deserving.
Already the skipper of his country, Coleman is a fan favourite who bears many of the characteristics you’d want in a Toffees captain — he doesn’t shirk his duties and he plays the game with a Corinthian spirit and his emotions channeled into the right avenues rather than into opposition players’ faces.
Give Seamus the armband. He’s worthy of it and he’s earned it.
Reader Comments (52)
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1 Posted 05/03/2018 at 17:37:55
2 Posted 05/03/2018 at 17:39:18
Your headline perfectly captures my take on Williams in my view, the management need to set an example and get rid of him irrespective of the business side of football. He is unfit to represent Everton.
The appointment of someone who represents the Brian Labone end of the market, such as Séamus, would be a statement in itself that both on and off the field we were blind but can now see.
3 Posted 05/03/2018 at 17:52:11
On Saturday Barnes totally bossed, out-muscled and out thought both Williams and his former teammate Keane. The swing of the elbow from Williams aimed at Barnes was the icing on the cake for the centre-forward and confirmed what we all knew Williams had been owned all afternoon and his cowardice and subsequent red card was totally justified.
Going forward Everton need to rid itself of the players who in addition to clearly lacking in ability but also the character, self-discipline and motivation required as a minimum. Too many players have demonstrated flaws in their mental strength and character this season exemplified by Williams on Saturday.
Moshiri needs to go in and read the riot act at Finch Farm as it quite clearly has not worked under either Koeman or Allardyce. We need to know who is up for the fight ahead given that a relegation fight is not out of the question. The list should start with Williams and include:
4 Posted 05/03/2018 at 17:53:03
I find his quality of football more frustrating than his temperament, but mix them together and you have really negative mix. I don't think you can question his sincerity, however, and whatever direction his career takes we should wish him the best, but away from us.
5 Posted 05/03/2018 at 17:54:52
7 Posted 05/03/2018 at 17:56:24
8 Posted 05/03/2018 at 18:03:42
Should be shown the door at the first opportunity.
9 Posted 05/03/2018 at 18:06:14
Oh, I forgot!! We had Shane Duffy and sold him to Blackburn. He'd make bits of Keane and Williams!!!
10 Posted 05/03/2018 at 18:10:44
This player is high on my list. His ability is extremely limited, poor in the air, abysmal on the ground and has the positional sense of a fart in a bottle.
11 Posted 05/03/2018 at 18:28:36
Simon Davies or Alexandersson
Manager – Allardyce, Koeman or big Walter
12 Posted 05/03/2018 at 18:41:08
However, this season has gone seriously wrong for him. Without letting the emotion get in the way, I've tried to look at possible reasons.
- He's personally happy at the club so he's not trying to get away (even if his form wouldn't get him too far).
- I know he forged a good partnership with Holgate earlier in the season which was broken up by Allardyce no sooner than when it started to look promising.
- The most likely reason is the decline in his form is similar to that Distin. His decline was swift and was evident by similar traits. Mistimed tackles in dangerous situations, poor clearances either by foot or head and regularly being caught cold by on running attackers. Much that I respected Sylvain he was being caught out positionally and in possession. I think that this is what's happening with Ashley Williams.
He can longer repeat what he did with Wales and Swansea three years ago. When Allardyce leaves in May, whoever takes charge will deem Williams surplus to requirements.
13 Posted 05/03/2018 at 18:52:17
I don't think a team of our "worst ever", as Ian proposed above, would have six players from the last five years in the starting XI. But immediate/recent memory tends to rule when it comes to "best of" or "worst of".
Williams has been disappointing, and failed to improve our defence. He's been a mediocre player for us and now seems to be declining further. Wholly underwhelming, yet far from one of the worst ever players to play for the club.
14 Posted 05/03/2018 at 19:14:43
When we signed Williams I was mildly excited at the prospect of us getting a solid vocal leader, something that with the likes of John Stones and Ramiro Funes Mori had been lacking from the previous 2015-16 season whilst it's been widely known that Jags is a bit too nicey-nicey with opponents.
The signing of Williams at 31 seemed to be perfect for at least two or three years much in the way Sylvain Distin arrived in his twilight years, but produced immense defensive capabilities for four solid years.
Watching Ashley Williams now is cringe-worthy, what the hell happened to his leadership qualities? Where is the solid defender at Swansea gone? Why is he making pathetic rash stupid decisions like getting sent off on Saturday and at Old Trafford last April with us holding on in injury time?
I thought when we signed him we were getting a role model and a leader of men but, instead of that, he's become a complete embarrassment to himself and to be brutally honest this current three-game ban should be the curtain call on his Everton career and he shouldn't be seen in a Blue shirt again now.
A sad end to a shockingly poor short Everton career that should have produced a solid captain that the defence was organised around instead of the joke figure Williams has become.
15 Posted 05/03/2018 at 19:17:45
His golden moments in the Welsh march at Euro 2016 were commendable. But the buffoons who sanctioned his buy at £12 million at his age and under achievement, were complete mugs on an epic scale.
Swansea to Everton, via Mickey Mouse stopovers along the way were a bridge too far, by many miles, for the West Midlands lad.
16 Posted 05/03/2018 at 19:23:08
His frustration is probably down to coming to terms with his own demise. We got him on the way down but he is by no means one of the worst we have seen.
17 Posted 05/03/2018 at 19:33:00
I've been willing him to do well ever since he signed but it is absolutely clear his time has gone! He is a complete liability and it's best for all of he never plays for us again!
He's a bit like Samson (not Kenny) ever since he's had that long hair he's lost his strength, pace, ability and confidence!
I predicted he'd be the next Everton captain to lift a trophy not one of my better predictions! Gutted!!
18 Posted 05/03/2018 at 19:43:18
Deffo make Seamus captain, and get Williams anger management. Passion, guts and determination... yes, in every game, but having a nark as he looks prone to increasingly as he's too slow and can't read the game means, he is always yards off and nearly always on the positional side as a centre-back.
Imagine in the Man City and RS games. Hopefully he won't be in the team for the RS, and he will miss Man City as part of his 3-game ban.
19 Posted 05/03/2018 at 20:24:54
I hope Williams never plays for us again. When he signed for us, I knew it was a bad signing.
20 Posted 05/03/2018 at 20:25:22
He has been a liability for too long and Sam must shoulder the blame for allowing him to continue to play, nevermind lead the team. Coleman is the obvious answer.
21 Posted 05/03/2018 at 20:31:56
Typical of the new era at Everton: over-paid, over-inflated ego and over the hill.
22 Posted 05/03/2018 at 20:36:32
There was a time when ITV would pinch stars off the BBC just past the point where they were starting to go backwards. Godolphin often do this buying racehorses off other yards. We did this with Williams. And if the rumours are true, we want to do it with Vardy and Wenger.
But those rumours are nonsense, aren't they?
23 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:09:56
Just what does that say to the rest of the squad?
24 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:29:00
Pattern emerges that a lot of our signings never really live up to their previous reputations when they come to us. It's like they switch off as soon as the ink is dry.
Gotta ask why???
25 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:38:52
He was never a good passer of the ball, he used to simply pass the ball onto Leon Britton. His performances for Swansea over the previous two years were showing a rapid decline. Very few Swansea fans were upset at his departure.
His signing must have been based on the Welsh performance in the Euros. He has always been an accident waiting to happen and, even in his better games, there have been moments of panic.
26 Posted 05/03/2018 at 21:47:34
27 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:18:23
It transpires that the trenches is where he really belongs in a footballing sense.
He puts his body on the line with blocks, lunges etc, and is a siege player. When he moved to an arguably better team yes we were and he wasn't required to clear his lines and play in his own box for almost the whole match, he was found out to be an average football passer with no pace and poor positional sense.
I don't blame whoever signed him; it seemed a good, if pricey, move at the time. It looks like the Euros were his Swansong, and time has now exposed his increasing limitations.
He should have been used as a makeweight in the Sigurdsson move, or a concerted effort for Alfie Mawson.
I don't think he should represent us again though.
28 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:18:54
29 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:23:23
He came to Everton, hit the big(ger) time, grew those stupid dreadlocks, and his form went completely down the pan.
I rest my case!
30 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:27:32
In what I thought was our darkest hour this season (sadly I fear it may still be around the corner) Williams was a total liability and played with visible fear in his eyes. I'm thinking about the trouncings received in Europe.
I anticipated a leader but he has never shown an ounce of leadership. Barely says a word to his teammates. Contrast that with a virtual child named Morgan Feeney and this gutless clown has no redeeming features.
In an ideal world he simply should not ever play for the club again, he is not good enough and, on recent showing, not deserving.
31 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:32:45
Roll back to Summer 2016. We have just signed a DoF in Walsh and tell him we need a strong durable no-nonsense centre back to replace Stones. So he checks his stats, as it's quite clear that's how our DoF works. He finds a guy who in 2015-16 season was 2nd in Blocks, 1st in Clearances and 2nd in Headed clearances in the Premier League, a club captain, a leader and had just had a great Euros as captain with Wales. A no-brainer, apart from his age.
I had only seen Williams play for Swansea against Everton and he always did well. Unfortunately, he was just at the end of a stellar career with Swansea and could never replicate that form. The only criticism we can make is that the age profile was off, as we are all agreed, the signing was a disappointing one.
32 Posted 05/03/2018 at 22:43:33
Here's hoping always hoping!
33 Posted 05/03/2018 at 23:33:35
Ashley should go in the summer for his and our sakes. I reckon his frustration is coming from the knowledge that he can't do it anymore at Premier League level. He won't be the first or the last to get pissed off at getting old. It comes to us all.
He also thought coming to EFC was a step up to bigger and better things. That turned out well, didn't it?
34 Posted 05/03/2018 at 23:57:56
It seems to me he got his last big move from Swansea to Everton and, likely knowing he'd peaked, has coasted ever since. Strolling around the field showing no heart or desire, growing his hair into a ridiculous (albeit probably fashionable) pastiche of Jason Lee and, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, has lashed out and disgraced himself on more than one occasion now.
At this point, I would honestly pick Pennington or Galloway over Williams. There's also potentially Funes Mori, Holgate and Jagielka to choose from.
Sam has done a great job of making Klaassen, Vlasic and Sandro disappear. Please, Sam, do the same with Williams!
35 Posted 06/03/2018 at 02:26:44
Nakrani then went on to bluntly state that Williams has been lacking, both physically and technically, for several months. And while the 33-year-old has had a proud career – not least captaining Wales to the semi-finals of Euro 2016 – he is now done at the highest level of English football.
The worrying thing is that, despite Williams's obvious shortcomings, Allardyce not only continues to play him but makes him club captain. Says it all really!
36 Posted 06/03/2018 at 06:58:52
I was reminded of the howls that came when Lescott was physically assaulted by Carragher in the same part of the field. If the referee does not protect players, it is he who should be suspended.
37 Posted 06/03/2018 at 06:59:52
He's lost a step or two and, with the defence in shambles, he needs to join Distin in the stands until we can find a club that will suit his current skill set better, and allow him to leave.
38 Posted 06/03/2018 at 07:18:23
39 Posted 06/03/2018 at 07:29:18
Williams should be in the stands.
40 Posted 06/03/2018 at 07:36:26
On the other hand, if you'd named one of our current number of no-playing players, rather than one who's long gone...
41 Posted 06/03/2018 at 07:41:52
Two-over-the hill centre-backs. The similarities seemed obvious to me... maybe just me, though.
42 Posted 06/03/2018 at 08:14:20
James, Pennington can't get in the Leeds team. I wouldn't put him in in place of a fully fit Funes Mori, Holgate or Jagielka.
And where is Galloway these days? Struggling to get a game for Sunderland Under-23s?
43 Posted 06/03/2018 at 08:15:58
Sorry, pressed the send button in error.
James, I would, like you, play almost anyone instead of Williams but some of the young lads we thought had a bright future appear to have lost their way.
44 Posted 06/03/2018 at 08:34:07
45 Posted 06/03/2018 at 09:03:01
One of the worst Everton players of all time? I'm not sure he's even one of the worst Everton players this season, unfortunately.
46 Posted 06/03/2018 at 09:14:06
He has never looked as good as he did at Swansea and is proof that buying players who have performed well at other Premier League teams is little guarantee that they can replicate their form. Different systems, clubs, players bring the best out of some and the worst out of others.
Not worth paying the huge premium that Premier League players tend to cost, though Williams was fairly cheap – unlike Keane, who is a much bigger concern and disappointment to me, to be honest.
47 Posted 06/03/2018 at 12:51:08
Williams's Everton career should be as good as over now after Saturday. He is simply not good enough for Everton, not that Sam will see this! I agree with other comments on here about Keane, another massive disappointment. Funes Mori and Holgate (if fit) need to start the next game at the back. Bring Rooney back alongside Davies and drop Gueye, then put Sigurdsson behind a front line of Walcott, Tosun and Bolasie.
On paper, we have players to get at defenses but when it comes down to it, we just sit back and then crumble. I cannot remember the last time an Everton team were offensive from the start of a match.
48 Posted 06/03/2018 at 16:53:09
Williams was a promising player at Stockport and we should have nabbed him before he went to Swansea. Bringing in ageing players on the back of good performances in an international tournament that few people really care about isn't a good idea. He is past his best now and almost certainly was when Koeman brought him on board. Looks frustrated with his own decline.
Holgate and Funes Mori is probably best medium/long term option for me in central defence. If our best defence is Coleman, Holgate, Funes Mori and Baines, then it is certainly short of games this season!
49 Posted 07/03/2018 at 06:56:30
Perhaps if the others see that the club is serious about the standards we expect from those who wear our shirt, it might prove to be something of a catalyst, assuming they have the intelligence to realise they could be next.
50 Posted 07/03/2018 at 10:26:22
Some good choices but you must be too young to remember Micky Walsh.
Oh for a True Blue skipper. Bring back Mike Lyons. Fuck all skill, but a solid, hard defender AND one time top scorer. Blue to the core.
51 Posted 07/03/2018 at 18:23:24
The thing most lacking in the Everton team for around a decade has been leadership and spirit. We have had a team which has talent, skill and great support, but which has not had the player who will inspire and get stuck in when trouble arrives.
Williams actually is such a player. For all his faults, he does not run away, he does not hide. When he gets stuff wrong (which is fairly often) at least he was there to make the mistake, unlike, say, Schniederlin. Personally, I'd prefer someone who turns up and gets it wrong to someone who just packs up and doesn't bother (like the striker who went for a very large sum) when it gets a bit tough.
Unfortunately, Williams has lost both form and the kind of inner restraint which allows passion to show and to inspire, but stops the kind of stupidity we saw last weekend. What he needs is to regain the qualities he had when playing for Wales in 2016.
It may be too late in his career to get back the form and the footballing intelligence he would need, but I still don't think he is a post cause, and is still one of the few players out there whom I think could provide the spark.
That said, I resume my call for Coleman as captain which I used to recite regularly before the poor man got the usual "Everton player in an international" result.
52 Posted 08/03/2018 at 15:04:51
With Jags suffering regular injury problems, the time has come to appoint a team captain who is pretty much guaranteed to be an automatic choice. For all the reasons outlined by Lyndon, that man should be Seamus.
54 Posted 08/03/2018 at 21:05:35
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