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.
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!!