Who is MK Dons’ managerial front runner Mike Williamson?
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Overwhelming favourite to become the new MK Dons head coach, Gateshead manager Mike Williamson might not be a household name in Milton Keynes yet, but fans in the north east will be plenty familiar with the 39-year-old.
Originally from Stoke, Williamson began his playing career at the opposite end of the country in Torquay, before moving on to Southampton. Though he never made an appearance for the Saints, he impressed on loan at Wycombe Wanderers to earn a move to Adam’s Park in 2005.
Four years with the Chairboys led to a move to Watford, and then to Portsmouth in quick succession before Newcastle moved for the centre back. Helping the club return to the Premier League, Williamson became a regular for the Magpies for the next five-and-a-half years.
Spells at Wolves and Oxford United following, where he was released by former Dons boss Karl Robinson, before joining Gateshead in 2018.
After joining the Heed as a player, Williamson took over as player-manager in the immediate aftermath of a supporter-led takeover at the International Stadium less than 12 months later. A hasty rebuild from an enforced relegation into the National League North brought almost immediate results as the new look Gateshead secured a play-off place and made their way to the first round proper of the FA Cup.
Despite missing out on promotion and being forced to battle against the limitations caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the momentum continued as Williamson led the Heed to the National League North title in 2022 and reached the second round of the FA Cup before a brave performance against League One side Charlton Athletic ended with a 2-0 home defeat.
Gateshead defied the odds to preserve their National League status in their first season back in non-league’s elite and reached their first major cup final at Wembley before a 1-0 defeat at FC Halifax Town in the FA Trophy Final ended hopes of securing silverware.
This season, Gateshead sit sixth in the National League, with Williamson heavily tipped now to move south to take over the vacant season left by Graham Alexander on Monday.