Why Hartlepool United and Barrow interest in Gateshead's Mike Williamson should not be a surprise

It should not be a surprise to anyone to see Mike Williamson linked with managerial vacancies higher up the football pyramid.

By Mark Carruthers
Monday, 16th May 2022, 11:14 am

Nor should it be a surprise if the Heed player-manager was to consider the options available to him.

I have to admit he came up in my thoughts as soon as Hartlepool United and Barrow parted company with Graeme Lee and Phil Brown, respectively.

The job Williamson and the likes of Ian Watson and Louis Storey have done at Gateshead should not be underestimated as they took a lead role in helping the club rebuild in the aftermath of the supporter-led takeover in the summer of 2019.

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Gateshead player/manager Mike Williamson. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images).

With a budget dwarfed by many of their full-time National League North rivals, the Heed have produced a brand of football that would by the envy of many a club across the non-league pyramid and secured a first league title since 1986.

Success inevitably draws attention, and just as a number of the Heed’s title-winning side will be on the transfer wishlists of many a club, so too will Williamson.

Without trying to sound patronising to anyone connected to Gateshead, there should be a realisation of where they are in the football food chain.

Unless you are a Real Madrid or Liverpool, you are always susceptible to losing a key figure because there are bigger fish swimming in the ocean.

That is not to suggest Williamson - or any member of their squad for that matter - will definitely depart over the coming weeks.

But it would be understandable if heads were turned and there was a willingness to listen to offers from Football League clubs.

If I had a pound for every time I’d been asked whether or not I think Williamson will stay at Gateshead on Sunday morning, I could probably afford to fund his Heed playing budget for the new season!

The simple answer is I don’t know.

I suspect he may well stay and guide the club through their first season back in non-league’s top tier - but that in itself will provide significant challenges.

I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone to suggest Williamson and Watson will be working with one of the smallest budgets in the National League and the duo will have to box clever in the transfer market this summer.

The loan market may well be exploited once again after the successful additions of the likes of Hull City left-back Matty Jacob, Carlisle United’s Taylor Charters and Aston Villa keeper Filip Marschall last season.

I am sure there will be an openness to dealing with the likes of Newcastle United, Middlesbrough and Sunderland now the Heed are plying their trade at a higher level after some bridges were burned under the club’s previous ownership.

This summer will be tough, there has to be a realisation of that and every contract in a lengthy list will be exhausted as they compete with a plethora of big-spending former Football League clubs next season.

If Williamson and Watson remain at the International Stadium - and I am edging towards they will - they will need the backing of everyone emotionally and professionally involved at Gateshead if they are to continue performing minor miracles on the south bank of the Tyne.