2017/18 Opinion – Midfielders Part Two

Jordan Williams

When I say I feel let down by Jordan Williams, that isn’t a reflection of his personal performances. I think he’s worked hard whenever he’s come in and he looked a home in the 4-3-3 set up as well. He’s versatile, both a winger and a traditional inside left, giving Danny options but, for some reason, everything seemed to fizzle out.

He started six times for City, came on five times as a sub and I don’t think he had a bad game in that time. The problem is, he didn’t have a great game either. He toiled, he switched play, he got on the ball but he didn’t do anything sensational. There was no Danny Rowe style thunderbolts, not even a Cameron Stewart style assist in the EFL Trophy.

That leads me to one of the things that held Williams back, being cup tied for the trophy. It may seem odd, but I think once we won at Wembley, the players who performed there had a ‘free pass’ if you like, certainly for the next game against Port Vale. As we impressed in each round the players who played earned the right to stay in for league matches, meaning Jordan Williams sat out. It didn’t affect Scott Wharton as much, being a versatile left sided centre back he filled back in when Luke was suspended, nor did it affect James Wilson because he was either injured or coming back, but Jordan had to sit out at times when maybe, just maybe he could have been growing in stature.

The rumour is he cost Rochdale £100,000 in the summer, not a sum of money many Lincoln fans would have liked to see us pay for him. He’ll go back there this term and I suspect they’ll want another look at him, but with him not really cutting it in League Two I wouldn’t expect Keith Hill to be playing him heavily in League One. I’d take him back on loan, there’s enough there to suggest he could have an impact and he could develop, but in truth his Imps career just never quite got going.

Alex Woodyard

Where I sit in the Coop Stand there’s this red-faced old boy who takes up two seats. Every week he gets redder and redder every time Alex touches the ball, calling him every name under the sun. He’s negative, he’s useless etc etc. At one point my mate Dave, so placid he wouldn’t dare tell a child off in case it answered back, got incensed and starting talking really loudly about how good Alex was. Believe me, for Dave that is as confrontational as I’ve ever known him. He almost said it to the guys face. Almost.

I see it on social media a bit too, he’s disloyal because he apparently wanted the Luton move, even though he stayed. He only ever passes backwards and is no more than a League Two player, coming from the same people who call him for almost moving to League One Luton Town. I cannot for the life of me understand which games those people have been watching because Alex Woodyard is, without a doubt, one of the best players we have.

He’s absolutely not ‘just League Two’ standard, otherwise why would both Scunthorpe and Luton have courted him? Luton were League Two at the time but it was widely accepted they were going up and they saw Alex as part of their League One side. You know why? Because they know a good footballer when they see one.

Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe, just maybe, the backwards and sideways passes are what he’s been told to do in order to retain possession? In criticising those perhaps you’re actually criticising the tactic, not the player. Most of those backward or sideways passes land at the intended player’s feet by the way, so even if you think it’s negative, it is accurate.

I’m addressing this as though there’s a large amount of people knocking him and that is perhaps misleading. I’m sure there’s far more who see exactly what he does bring to the side, the constant hard work and non-stop commitment. He breaks up play, he’s a constant thorn in the side of the opposition and yes, he’s defensively minded because that is his role. We looked incredibly secure in a 4-4-2 with him and Bozzie holding, but we didn’t have the attacking players to make it work.

Alex Woodyard is a footballer’s footballer. He’s a team mate’s dream, a player who does the hard work all the time. He’s the midfielder who can dig a winger out of a hole if they lose the ball, he’s the player dropping back on to the edge of the area to protect his defence. If a forward pass is misplaced he’s the one who goes to win the ball and lay it back to the defender to try again. So what if he hasn’t been threading fifty yard balls through for Matt Green, that hasn’t been his job. He looks to switch play whenever he can, if he can’t he retains possession by laying the ball back.

I’m not sure we’ll hold on to Alex this summer and I wouldn’t begrudge him a move if it came along. Teams are watching him, teams in League One and despite what a few think, he’s got the ability to play there. He’s the unseen footballer, the hard worker who never comes up with a sensational goal or memorable assist, but he’s integral to our side, the heart beat of the team for two seasons now.

This season, Lincoln City played 58 matches in all competitions. Alex Woodyard played 56 of those, missing only Everton in the EFL Trophy. In that time we won the cup and finished top seven, so how on earth is he only League Two quality? For me, he’s one of the best players in our squad.

Tomorrow – we finish with the forwards, an analysis which will take significantly less time to write up than this one!!



  1. Really good analysis again Gary. Keep up the good work.

    Only thing I would add is Cameron Stewart-there is quality there but not confidence, nor possibly a hard working mindset.

    When we had a bit of a goal drought and on twitter was vids of goalscoring comp at Robert Patt, did he not make final (if not semis !) with Elliot Whitehouse ?? I would have liked to have seen him given more of a chance personally.

  2. I hope Alex Woodyard stays with us for years to come. I’d like to see the actual stats but I think he really never does give the ball away. He has developed rapidly under the guidance of the Cowleys, and I see no reason why that won’t continue at whatever level we reach.

  3. I have to agree with some of the criticism of Alex, he does indeed give the ball away contrary to the song and he is not creative enough. His performance against Exeter was less than average. Recruitment this summer of at least two quality midfield players and some for other positions are very necessary for the cause. However I do agree that he is a ‘keeper’ and I think will dovetail with creative midfielders and Freck alone is good but not enough……

    • Danny has a random group of players right now! 1/3 National League 2/3 Division 2. This small squad mentality will not get us prmooted to Div1. A number of players over hyped! Will not name names but the evidence is there… Danny is a winner… he won’t let sentiment get in the way of progress… Fascinating to see where we go from here.

  4. I think in the voting for ‘Best Midfield Players’ I put Alex Woodyard on a par with Dennis Booth and preferred the latter solely because of his better ability in dead ball situations – mainly when taking corners. Those who remember ‘Boothy’ will know what that says about my opinion of Woodyard.

    Re Elliott Whitehouse, I think at worst he’s a good squad player at this level but if we’d gone up I think he would/should have been released.

    I’d rather have Rowe than Williams – but I don’t suppose I’m the only one to think that.

  5. If there’s one area of the pitch I’ve been disappointed with this season, it’s been our wide players. We started the season with so much promise and anticipation, none of them have contributed nearly enough, with the exception of Harry at a push.
    JMD was the biggest flop, Ginnelly spent too much time hiding behind his fullback. Arnold didn’t contribute enough as an attacking force, his work rate was still outstanding though. Harry was great up until the new year & seems to have lost his way.
    Danny Rowe was sensational at times, but drifted in & out. Williams doesn’t have the pace or trickery to play out wide & I don’t think we found his best position. Tom Pett, I’ve seen it said he didn’t get a chance. I believe he did, he started about 4 or 5 games immediately after signing for us & made zero impact. I’ve not given up on him, but he does have a fair bit to prove.
    All in all, none of them have had the impact we’d hoped for. Is it the system? The role they’re being asked to play? God knows…
    Alex Woodyard though, he’s outstanding for us. If the wide players had pulled their weight I guarantee nobody would be expecting Alex to be more positive. If he goes he’ll leave a huge hole, a bigger hole than Raggett left for sure.

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