Wolves

Williamson has the credentials, but stick with Batth as Wolves’ captain
2nd February 2016

After a lot of patience; and some considerable impatience, Wolves fans will be thankful that the club followed up the signings of Michal Zyro and Aaron Collins earlier in the transfer window.

In the past week; promising defender Hakeem Odoffin arrived from Barnet and Joe Mason signed from Cardiff City for a seven figure fee. Defender Mike Williamson also arrived at Molineux, following a successful loan spell in the West Midlands at the end of 2015.

Williamson will become the oldest player in the squad at the age of 32, after agreeing an 18-month deal. He has amassed nearly 400 games in senior football, including 170 for Newcastle United. A considerable amount of these appearances were in the Premier League, where he says Wolves should be aiming to be in the forthcoming seasons.

The tall defender’s obvious experience and know-how suggests that he would make a good club captain. A captain is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as ‘the leader of the team’. If you’re an avid user of Twitter; like me, you will have already seen a number of Newcastle players wishing their former teammate goodbye, many saying that he was a model professional.

This suggests to me that Williamson could be employed in a similar to role to that of Sam Ricketts, when he joined the club back in 2013.

Ricketts was seen as the ideal role model to the squad; which contained the likes of Jack Price, Lee Evans and Ethan Ebanks-Landell, who were all playing in their first few seasons of senior football at the club.

17 August 2014 FA Premier League Football - Newcatle United v Manchester City - United defender Mike Williamson clears the ball.Photo: Mark Leech

Wolves signed experienced defender Mike Williamson from Newcastle United for an undisclosed fee late last month.

There is no reason as to why Williamson cannot do the same; influencing Jordan Graham, Bright Enobakhare and the other young players at Head Coach Kenny Jackett’s disposal to get the best out of them on the pitch.

I am not saying that current captain; Danny Batth, is not a good skipper. But, Wolves fans would find it hard to argue that the defence has looked as calm and composed in Williamson’s absence after Newcastle recalled him from his loan spell early.

This may be due to the fact that Ethan Ebanks-Landell has been forced to plug the hole left in the centre of the defence. I am not his biggest fan.

But I do not think it is a coincidence that Batth’s downturn in form began at the start of this season, when Sam Ricketts left, relinquishing his club captain role.

It is difficult for fans to remember that despite well over a century of appearances for the club, Batth is still only 25. Could it be said that Batth is caving in to the immense pressure on his shoulders?

The sale of Richard Stearman back in August has not helped. Despite his young age, Batth is still seen as the experienced head of the back four in Stearman and Ricketts’ absence. Williamson’s stewardship may be exactly what Batth needs to rediscover the form that all fans know he is capable of, one that led to an impressive fifteen clean sheets in the League One promotion season and another solid season a year later.

Within a few minutes of his debut against Birmingham City at St Andrews, Williamson could be seen directing the defence meticulously. In a notoriously close league such as the Championship, this is extremely important.

Wolves missed out on the play-offs on goal difference last year. In the five games Williamson featured in, Wolves kept three clean sheets.

Fans will be hoping that Williamson picks up from where he left off in the Old Gold shirt. If he ended up lifting a league trophy like Sam Ricketts, he’d certainly be counted as another one of Wolves’ transfer success stories. Roger Johnson on the other hand, definitely wasn’t such a big hit!

When he arrived in the summer of 2011, Mick McCarthy instantly made him captain after a big-money switch from Birmingham City.

It didn’t particularly go to plan. McCarthy was sacked following a crushing defeat at home to rivals West Brom, leaving Johnson to admit that the players had let the staff down. Johnson himself went on to let everyone at the club down by being ‘unfit to train’ because of alcohol, following another heavy defeat, this time at the hands of Fulham.

I am not suggesting that Mike Williamson could be an alcoholic; but it is possible that making a new signing captain, particularly in the middle of the season, could prove disruptive to the playing squad, especially with Batth seen as a role model to the younger players at the club having come through the academy himself.

Batth has played for Wolves since he was ten. But not only that; his passion for the club, the city and its people are unquestionable. Batth was seen selling the Big Issue, and raised £156.25 to help address the issue of homelessness in the city.

Wolves are a family club, and if Batth was stripped of the captaincy, how would some fans react? His performances this season have often been questionable; including tackling Dominic Iorfa, but he remains one of my role models and favourite players. I think I speak on behalf of the majority of Wolves fans.

For this reason; I do not think Mike Williamson should be made captain upon his arrival. I hope that, after recovering from his slight hamstring injury, Batth and Williamson form a formidable partnership at the centre of our defence that could lead to a late play-off push this season, and maybe even more next term.

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