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Another Swans Song . . . Luke Williams And Russell Martin Are Re-United At Swansea

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By Paul Jones

Luke Williams used to spend 10 hours a day in the company of Southampton boss Russell Martin and he hopes he can read his friend’s mind when Martin takes his Saints side to old club Swansea City on Saturday.

Williams worked with Martin as assistant coach at Swansea before heading to Notts County, and now finds him in the opposite dugout after taking over the managerial reins at the Swansea.com Stadium.

Martin left Swansea last year and has guided Southampton to third place in the Championship, three points behind Ipswich and 10 off top-paced Leicester City.

When the two teams met on Boxing Day at St Mary’s Stadium, it ended 5-0 to Southampton. Swansea were under caretaker boss Alan Sheehan at the time.

“I joined Russell in week two of his journey after he joined Swansea. A lot has happened since I worked with him 18 months ago,” said Williams.

“I’ve been to a play-off final at Wembley and won promotion with Notts County and he has moved to a big club with a mission to take them back into the Premier League.

“He’s done a great job at Southampton and turned them into a top side in the division. I’m sure he has moved on from the last time I worked with him.

“We used to spend 10 hours a day with each other when we first worked together at Swansea. We were staying in the same hotel and having breakfast and dinner together before and after being on the training field.

“We spent a huge amount of time thinking and talking about our ideas. He had a huge influence on me.”

Swansea are entering a tough period of their campaign with five of their next seven Championships outings against teams in the top seven. They also have a home game against Bournemouth in the FA Cup.

“We have to play a really good game or we aren’t going to get anything out of it. We have to battle with them to try to dominate the game,” added Williams.

“We need to be brave enough to find some moments in the game, to get a foothold in the game.”

Martin says he wishes nothing but the best for Williams – but only after Southampton have left his old club with all the points.

Martin returns to the Swans for the first time since leaving to take charge of promotion-chasing Saints last summer.

Williams spent time as Martin’s assistant at both Swansea and MK Dons before going on to manage Notts County.

Southampton are third in the Championship and undefeated in their past 20 games in all competitions and Martin said: “I’m really pleased for Luke, he did a great job at Notts County.

“It’s a really good move for him and for Swansea. The style of play fits. He knows the people there and they know him.

“He knows how brilliant a club it is. It might change the mood around the club when we go there.

“It will add a bit extra for everyone. My overriding feeling for him and Ryan Harley – who helped me in my first six months at MK Dons – is one of happiness.

“We have stayed friends. We were teammates and Ryan helped me a huge amount when I first became a manager.

“I hope it goes really well (for them) after they have played against us.”

Williams has recorded a win over Morecambe in the FA Cup and a draw against Birmingham in the league in his first two games in charge.

There’s a north-south Welsh derby at Rodney Parade on Saturday, where Newport County host high-flying Wrexham in League Two.

For once, the focus is on the home team more than the Hollywood-backed visitors as the following week Newport will enjoy one of the biggest games in their history as Manchester.

United come calling in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Wrexham are second in the league, two points behind Stockport County, having played a game fewer.

Newport are mid-table after an inconsistent league campaign, but one that reflects well enough on manager Graham Coughlan who is operating on meagre resources this season.

The County boss has warned his players not to have any part of their attention on their glamour FA Cup tie – and warned there will be consequences if they do.

“We’ve all been players, we all know the script,” said Coughlan.
“If you don’t play well tomorrow [Saturday] you don’t give yourself a great opportunity of playing next week.

“With all due respect to tomorrow’s opponents, it’s all about us, it’s about what we do about how we prepare, how we go about our business and performance levels.

“If you don’t perform [against Wrexham] and don’t go about your business well, then you give yourself a little bit of a headache all next week going into the next game, irrespective of who the next game is.”

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