NEWCASTLE United came up short in their bid to bring in an extra defender before Tuesday’s deadline. You’d expect Mike Williamson to be happy, but not a bit of it – as Mark Douglas reports.
It is a remarkable reversal of fortune, but the defender takes his changing status in his stride. “If you ask anyone in the squad, you never shut down, never stop believing,” he said.
“You need to have the belief within yourself that you can come into the team at any time. That is what the training ground and gym are here for – to make sure you are ready for your chance.
“Football is so unpredictable, you never know what will happen. One day you can be out in the cold, the next you are grabbing the headlines.
“Everyone knows how quickly it can change and I am just trying to take my chance now.”
The next opportunity comes against Aston Villa, with Williamson tasked with job of silencing England striker Darren Bent as he returns to the North East.
The former Sunderland man was prolific during his spell on Wearside but seemed strangely subdued whenever he played in derby clashes.
With no goals in two encounters against Williamson it would be tempting to say the Newcastle man had his number, but you won’t find one of the most humble members of the Magpies squad echoing that belief.
“I had a couple of good battles with him when he was at Sunderland and managed to keep him quiet,” he said. “But if you watch him every week, you can see he is a natural goalscorer.
“He is also good in the air and has all the attributes, and we know what he is about.
“Those derbies were all about winning the battles and fortunately we managed to do that and keep him quiet. This is a completely different game, however – he has pace, self-belief and he can score from anywhere.”
Thoroughly pleasant and grounded, Williamson is the quiet poster boy of this Newcastle side. No ego, no superstar status – he gets on with his job in the most efficient way possible.
It is an approach that has brought United close to the Champions League places but, unsurprisingly, he will not be drawn into speculating about a push for the top four. You would expect nothing else from him.
“I think I will leave you guys to speculate about that. There has been nothing said in the dressing room about taking each game as it comes,” he said. “Our mindset as a group of lads, the only way we can achieve something like that is by working hard and grinding out results. Our mindset has always been like that.”