Mike Williamson

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Club Reporter

 

Mike Williamson may have only spent four months working under Brendan Rodgers, but the United centre-back instantly knew he was destined to be a top flight boss.

Rodgers was taking his first steps in management at Championship outfit Watford when he signed Williamson in January 2009 from Wycombe Wanderers.

The duo both departed Vicarage Road that summer - Williamson for Portsmouth and Rodgers to Reading - but a lasting impression had certainly been made in that short space of time.

"I always thought he (Rodgers) would make the step up - you could see it from day one," explained Williamson to nufc.co.uk.

"Before he became a manager in his own right he did a lot of work with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and you could see that in his mentality and the way he went about his job.

"He speaks five or six languages, and with his drive to succeed you could see right from the start that he would make it to the top level.

"He was fantastic - different class - and I've got loads of respect for Brendan. He is just a genuinely great guy who knows the importance of family, values you as a person and is brilliant to work with on the training ground as well.

"Brendan's sessions were always so thorough and very intense, short and sharp. I couldn't speak more highly of him."

While Rodgers' spell in charge of Reading ended with the sack, he followed it up by leading Swansea to the Premier League, earning himself a switch to Liverpool last summer.

And as Newcastle prepare to head for Anfield on Sunday afternoon, Williamson knows he and his teammates will have to be on top of their game to come away with a result.

"It's a fantastic stadium and you always enjoy playing games there, but it's going to be tough," said the 28-year-old.

"We have to work as hard as we did against West Brom last week, but maybe be a bit more forward-thinking too and keep possession better. That will be important against Liverpool as once they have the ball they like to keep it, so we don't want to give it to them.

"It will be important for us to go there and be strong, not just physically, but mentally strong too."