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Williams: We can prove critics wrong
THE bookmakers may have written off their chances of challenging for promotion this season, but Rhys Williams believes Sunday’s performance against Wigan Athletic suggests Middlesbrough may not be as far away as people think.
Tony Mowbray took his squad to the DW Stadium to face a side that still boasts plenty of Premier League quality, while Latics boss Owen Coyle has been able to spend millions in comparison to the Boro boss.
However, at times it was actually the Teessiders that were the superior side with Mowbray’s men causing all sorts of problems for Wigan while playing some very attractive football.
Of course, only four games into the campaign no one on Teesside is getting carried away by Sunday’s display, but Williams believes it will give the squad confidence they are capable of challenging the top teams after receiving a bashing for their failure last season.
“This year a lot of the bookies have written us off and it’s nice to go to Wigan and put in a performance like that,” the defender said. “A lot of people will only see the score but the Boro fans that were there would have seen how good their team played and it’s nice to be on top again.
“I think a run of games help people. Once you start well then it builds and confidence is very high in our changing room. We’re quite disappointed to have dropped two points.”
Mowbray is still working hard on bringing new faces to the club with two strikers and a defender top of his list. A move for Ross McCormack appears to be dead and buried at this moment in time, while it is thought the Boro boss is now focusing his search for a forward abroad.
Norwich City defender Daniel Ayala is also on Boro’s radar, but Williams believes the players that have already arrived have made the squad stronger.
He said: “I think we’re close to being very good. The gaffer has brought in some real quality and experience, which was needed.
“We had a very young team with some loan players last year and it’s nice to have some players in that know the game and have been around a long time.
“It’s helping me with Frazer (Richardson), Parns (Stuart Parnaby) and Woody and also George, and the lads have benefited from some older heads coming in.
“I think this year there is competition behind us, which is keeping us going. The more of that the better for the starting XI.
“The gaffer has made it clear that if you train well and play well you’re going to be picked. We have showed we’re all in it together, even the boys that came on. I thought Marvin was very good and could have had a few goals and I think the squad is really together this year so watch this space.”
George Friend’s first goal since September 2010 got the ball rolling for Boro at the DW Stadium, but despite turning in a man-of-the-match display, Williams admitted the left-back had been feeling unwell the night before the game.
“We room together and he was actually not well on Saturday night,” the skipper revealed. “I put the fan on in the room and he asked me not to point it on him as he wasn’t very well, but he was sensational.
“You wouldn’t be surprised if Premier League teams are knocking on the door for him. He’s got such a bright future.
“We always have a laugh about the fact neither of us has scored for awhile so I’m glad it finally came for him. He gets in the box so much and people always seem to get the final touch before him.
“I’m proud of him, he deserved the goal. It’s my turn now – I haven’t scored for a while so I think he’s going to put the pressure on me now!”
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