Why a contract extension for Ashley Williams sounds good for Bristol City
The 35-year-old, who spent the entirety of the previous campaign on loan at Stoke City from Everton, initially joined Bristol City for free on a short-term deal until January, but his stellar start to the season has prompted the Robins to retain the veteran’s services until next summer.
Williams had been linked with a move to Anderlecht in recent weeks, with Vincent Kompany keen to acquire the services of the Welsh stalwart, however, the new contract is likely to pour cold water on all those rumours. (h/t Bristol Live)
The 86-cap Welsh international, who was instrumental in his nation’s surge to the semi-finals of Euro 2016, has started each of the Robins’ last nine fixtures in the Championship.
Manager Lee Johnson has relied on the likes of Tomas Kalas and Nathan Baker to partner the 35-year-old in his three-man central defensive unit, and Williams has retained his place as an undisputed starter, with Tomas Kalas gradually working his way back to full fitness following his return from a hamstring issue.
Bristol City have managed only two clean sheets in their last nine league outings, shipping 13 goals in the process, but Williams has done exceedingly well.
The former Swansea City star was once again in the thick of things at the weekend, scoring the opener in the 2-2 draw against Barnsley away from home.
The Robins looked all set for three points, only to be denied by an injury-time equaliser from Cauley Woodrow. Nevertheless, Williams caught the eye yet again and capped off another commanding display with a goal to show for his efforts.
Meanwhile, Bristol City have made a fine start to their campaign after narrowly missing out on a playoff berth last term.
Having won 6 and drawn 7 of their first 15 league fixtures, the Robins currently sit 6th in the standings, and the promotion noise at Ashton Gate is only expected to get louder if they manage to kick on after a promising start.
With 24 goals scored and 21 conceded so far in the Championship, the Robins have carved out a reputation for themselves as a free-scoring unit, however, Johnson is likely to take note of the fact that the club’s defensive numbers have been bettered by all the other teams placed above them in the standings.
Indeed, Bristol have lacked enough steel at the back in the first quarter of the campaign, with the Robins blowing away their advantage on several occasions to settle for draws.
However, with Tomas Kalas now back to fitness from his hamstring injury and Ashley Williams set to stay for the entirety of the campaign, the fans can certainly look forward to better returns.
As per whoscored, Williams has managed to come out on top in 30 out of a possible 52 aerial duels, averaging 3.3 per game, while also winning 9 out of his attempted 11 tackles.
Furthermore, the 35-year-old has chipped in with 17 interceptions and 45 clearances in 9 games, whilst boasting of a pass success rate of 77.3%, including 4.3 successful long balls per game.
Kalas, Bailey Wright and Baker are all experienced central defenders but a new contract for Williams still makes a lot of sense given his obvious quality and vast know-how of the English game.
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The Welshman is still going strong and his experience could prove to be a make-or-break factor in Bristol City’s pursuit of promotion.
With that in mind, the Robins have definitely done the right thing by extending the veteran’s stay until the end of the ongoing campaign.