Williams: Beattie never looked a manager

Accrington Stanley manager James Beattie
Accrington Stanley manager James Beattie

He’s all set to play the role of pantomime villain at Fratton Park tomorrow.

James Beattie is certain to face flak for his Southampton connections as he takes his place in the opposing technical area as Accrington Stanley boss.

But his former team-mate, Anthony Williams, admitted he’s more than a tad surprised to see Beattie in the role of manager.

The Pompey assistant manager started his career at Blackburn and was in the same youth side as the 35-year-old.

Williams didn’t have Beattie down as someone who was boss material.

He said: ‘We were in the same year.

‘We started in 1994 as apprentices and I spent three or four years with him in total.

‘I knew him well. He was one of the lads so it’s amazing to see him go on to become a manager.

‘I actually bumped into him a year ago in Manchester and he was still looking for a club to play at after leaving Rangers.

‘He’s a nice bloke and I got on well with him as a player but I didn’t expect him to become a manager.

‘He’s maybe a bit like Dean Saunders, who was one of the lads as well, and went on to become a manager. You don’t see it in them.

‘Certain players you look at them and see they are organised or talkers.

‘Then you look at the jokers and think they’ve got no chance.

‘But they end up surprising you and there’s a few of them like that.’

Beattie earned himself a move to Southampton from Blackburn in 1998 after just a handful of games at Ewood Park.

It was there that the striker came on to the radar of Pompey fans but Williams explained that switch never looked on the cards just a few months earlier as his career with his hometown club foundered.

Williams said: ‘I remember him getting dragged off in a reserve game and being replaced by a centre-half.

‘But he managed to get into the first-team, scored a number of goals and then went off for £1m!

‘Football’s a funny game like that but he was big, strong and could find the target.

‘So that’s ultimately how he went on to bigger and better things.’