Thursday 18 January 2018

Swansea boss Bob Bradley rues loss of Ashley Williams' leadership qualities

Swansea have missed the leadership skills of Ashley Williams since his summer move to Everton, says manager Bob Bradley.
Swansea have missed the leadership skills of Ashley Williams since his summer move to Everton, says manager Bob Bradley.

Swansea come up against former skipper Ashley Williams for the first time on Saturday with Bob Bradley admitting they miss the leadership qualities of the Wales captain.

Swans boss Bradley was still at French club Le Havre in the summer when centre-half Williams chose to end his eight-year stay in south Wales and head to Everton.

The 32-year-old made over 350 appearances in helping Swansea into the Premier League and establishing them in the top flight.

"I've heard many stories about Ashley and the stories always begin with his leadership ability," Bradley said.

"So I understand when a player who carries that type of responsibility within a team chooses to leave then work needs to be done to build that type of leadership back into the team.

"It may not come from one player, it may come from a group of players. But without a doubt we need more leadership.

"We need leadership on the field in different ways. Leadership can be a strong voice, but it is also making plays.

"Someone in the right moment of the game if the team has become too tentative - someone to step out, close down a little faster, put guys under pressure.

"We need more guys that when the game starts are ready to take real action. When you lose a leader everybody is challenged to take a bigger role, that has been the message to our group in recent weeks."

Both Everton and Swansea have been licking their wounds for the past fortnight after heavy defeats just before the international break.

Swansea suffered a seventh loss in eight games as Manchester United strolled to a 3-1 away win, while Everton were thrashed 5-0 at Chelsea.

It was the first time Everton had lost by more than one goal in the league under Ronald Koeman and Bradley fears a backlash from the Toffees on Merseyside.

"Any team you play against which has suffered a heavy defeat, you have to be ready," Bradley said.

"I think Ronald Koeman would agree the international break was not at a good time, but when you look at Everton you see a talented team.

"They have (Romelu) Lukaku, (Yannick) Bolasie and (Kevin) Mirallas and when (Ross) Barkley has the ball at his feet with good attackers in front of him they do very well.

"The full-backs get forward well, especially (Seamus) Coleman, and there are features of their game we respect.

"They would not have been satisfied with what happened against Chelsea, so we must be aware of that."

Talk of Lukaku's future dominated during the international break after Koeman was quoted as suggesting that the Belgium striker needs to play at a bigger club to fulfil his potential.

Koeman addressed the issue again before Swansea's visit by stressing the need for Everton to demonstrate they are a growing force to keep Lukaku for "as long as possible".

Lukaku has scored seven league goals this season and bagged another two in Belgium's 8-1 World Cup rout of Estonia last week, and his form will present a serious examination of young Swansea defenders Mike van der Hoorn and Alfie Mawson.

"He is a top player, he is physical and capable of scoring different kinds of goals," Bradley said.

"How you stop top attacking players has different parts to it. We must be good in all the different areas and make sure we stop him getting in those situations."

Press Association

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