On Tuesday evening, Town announced the signing of 28-year-old free agent Danny Williams on a two-year deal. As expected, the announcement was lauded by Town fans who had Williams’ stand-out performance against the Terriers at Wembley still fresh in their minds.
Town had to see off competition from a host of other clubs, predominantly in the Championship but also from across continental Europe, to land the signing of the popular midfielder on a free transfer.
After joining Reading from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, Williams spent four years in the Championship, as a vital ever-present cog in the heart of Reading’s midfield. Continuing the metaphor further, Williams was not only at the heart of Reading’s midfield, he was the heartbeat of the side.
Williams will be a familiar face for many Town fans, as over the past few years, he has constantly locked horns with Jonathan Hogg, producing some fantastic battles when the Royals and Terriers have met.
Do Hogg and Williams’ abilities compare to each other almost too well?
The dynamic midfield duo share many similarities, primarily how both conduct their defensive duties. With a willingness to hustle and harry, backed up by great energy and stamina, both Williams and Hogg will epitomise the Terrier identity.
However, Williams is far more attacking minded than Hogg who is renowned for sitting deep allowing his teammates around him to progress into more advanced supporting positions.
I think any combination of Williams and Hogg, Williams and Mooy or last season’s successful partnership of Hogg and Mooy could come to full fruition in the Premier League as the trio, on paper, compliment each other nicely.
I expect to see Hogg and Mooy retain their starting positions for the beginning of next season as David Wagner looks to continue to utilise relationships built over the course of the past season. However, Danny Williams is the ideal replacement for either Mooy or Hogg should one pick up an injury, require a rest or get a suspension.
We could also potentially see a Hogg-Williams combination come into play when Wagner wants an athletic midfield which is potentially more defensive minded for the difficult trips to the Premier League top six.
In my opinion, Williams is the ideal versatile midfield option and an amalgamation of Mooy and Hogg. As the exact definition of a box to box midfielder, he has a plethora of impressive attributes from his goalscoring capabilities to his ability to glide past the opposition, all of which combines to produce yet another shrewd signing by David Moss and David Wagner.
The Reading perspective
Following the signing of Danny Williams, Talk of the Town spoke to its similar namesake TalkReading to get a deeper understanding of what Williams will bring to Huddersfield Town.
“Danny was the only player we had that could do his job of driving the team forward and really getting around the pitch, so when he was missing – he was really missed.”
“His best attribute for me is his ability to carry the ball forwards and not get tackled. Just by using his body and finding space – no tricks. Never seen anything like it. He can make a tackle very well too.”
“He will fit the gegenpressing (philosphy) very well (as a) high energy player. He’s not really a defensive midfielder or an attacking midfielder, he’s best at no. 8 where he can cover the whole pitch, in the middle of a 4-3-3 is where he is at his best.”
“His weakness is probably shooting, he used to hit 5-6 over the bar a game, but since Stam has come in, he uses the ball much better.”
“We are very sad to see him leave. Don’t begrudge him at all (for moving on). He’s always said the Premier League is his dream and I’m happy for him that he’s made it.”
How will he fit into the squad?
The U.S international comes to the club already familiar with a few of the big personalities in the dressing room, including Elias Kachunga and Michael Hefele.
As we all know, one of the most significant factors behind last season’s success was the environment that David Wagner created.
Whilst there are a number of big characters and colourful personalities in the changing room, there are virtually no players that don’t buy into Wagner’s philosophy and vision for the club. This unanimous support for Town’s project led to a healthy, positive dressing room.
Williams arrives at Town with glowing admiration for David Wagner and his philosophy, before the former Reading midfielder even steps onto the training pitch, it appears that he has already bought into the philosophy.
As a humble but ambitious person, similar to Wagner himself, Williams could not pass up on the opportunity to play in the Premier League. Williams arrives as a hungry player with a point to prove, two common traits which are distinctively visible amongst the vast majority of Town’s current players. Therefore, Williams should slot straight into the team without any issues whatsoever.
Will Williams be able to deal with the step up to the Premier League or is he likely to struggle?
Like the rest of Town’s summer acquisitions, I don’t expect Williams to be fazed by the occasion of playing in the Premier League or feel out of sorts, playing against the very best. Over the past four years, Williams has established himself as one of the very best midfielder outsides of the Premier League with all the necessary attributes to play regularly in it.
Williams is at the prime age to take the next step in his career as he has plenty of experience to call upon which will serve him well in the Premier League. Alongside his new teammates and especially his highly-rated new coach, Williams is joining a side that will no doubt, get the very best out of him.
In summary, I think the move is perfect for both the club and the player. It is very rare to be able to pick up such a talented player on a free transfer and I’m sure almost every Huddersfield Town fan will be delighted that Williams chose newly-promoted Huddersfield Town as his next club.
Williams’ dream is to play in the Premier League and although he didn’t achieve it on the 29th May, a twist of footballing fate has seen him gain that opportunity with the very club he lost to.