By 90Min
October 11, 2017

Evertonian eyebrows were raised when Ronald Koeman decided to splash out £12m on bringing Ashley Williams to Goodison Park last summer.

The defender had, however, starred for Wales during their Euro 2016, helped to keep Swansea City in the Premier League and bore all the hallmarks of a player that the Toffees were in desperate need of.

A leader. A commanding centre-back to rival the likes of Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori. A presence in the dressing room. A non-nonsense type of guy who had no issue launching the ball into row Z.

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After the Roberto Martinez era such traits were needed in the Blues' senior ranks, and Williams helped to cement Everton's position back in the upper echelons in England's top flight.

Fast forward 12 months and the same cannot be said of the Wales international anymore - so just what has gone wrong for Williams since the summer break?

The former Swans captain looks a shadow of his former self and, given the way his grave errors have led to three goals being conceded for both club and country recently, his confidence appears at an all-time low.

Williams' terrible pass against Manchester United, which led to Romelu Lukaku netting against his former club last month, was followed up by another gaffe that led to Apollon Limassol's opener in the 2-2 Europa League draw days later.

If his performances for Everton were becoming increasingly problematic, Williams' costly error against the Republic of Ireland on Monday night in a crucial World Cup qualifier, which saw James McClean score from to send his nation into the play-offs at Wales' expense, did nothing but compound a torrid time for the 33-year-old.

Blues boss Koeman now has a major decision to make. Does he keep faith with someone he rates highly with the hope that Williams plays his way back into form? Or does the Dutchman withdraw him from the starting lineup to end his misery and/or make his lack of confidence even worse?

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Strangely enough, Williams' stats aren't too dissimilar from his decent displays for the Toffees in 2016/17.

The ex-Stockport County star has actually made more blocks and interceptions this season (1.15 and 1.7 per match) compared to last (0.8 and 1.6) while his pass completion percentage is also up - 86.2% this term compared to 83.5% in 16/17.

His key passes, shots per game and successful dribbles have all increased in 17/18 too, with his only stats that have negatively impacted his game being his tackling (down to 1.15 per game from 1.5 last season) and fouls committed (1.3 compared to 1.1).

Regardless, Williams is clearly a player with a crisis of confidence at the moment and, with three errors leading to goals in his past four outings, could really do with some time out of the limelight.

Koeman - and Everton - would be best served seeing captain Phil Jagielka partner Michael Keane for a stretch of games to shore up their backline and allow Williams to regain his self belief.

If the Dutchman fails to give Williams a time out, it could prove even more costly for Everton, Williams and Koeman himself.

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