Opinion Divided Over Van Persie Incident

Swansea defender Ashley Williams has received the backing of two of his former managers after he came in for criticism after striking Robin van Persie on the head with a ball hit from close range.

The Manchester United player was lying on the ground following a foul when Williams kicked the ball into the back of his head during yesterday's  match at the Liberty Stadium.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said Van Persie was "lucky to be alive" after the incident in the 74th minute of the 1-1 draw.

Wigan manager Roberto Martinez, who managed Swansea before joining the Latics in 2009, admitted he could understand Ferguson's reaction.

But he said Williams, a player he signed and knows well, did not act out of malicious intent.

"You see the incident and it is a very, very dangerous situation," Martinez said.

"I signed Ashley Williams for Swansea and I know his character inside out. I can guarantee you without even looking at the incident that he is not a nasty footballer.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who was Williams' manager at the Liberty Stadium until he left in the summer, felt the issue had been blown out of proportion.

"When you slow it down and look at it 20 times it does not look good for Ashley. But I know the player well and it is just that split-second when you can see he is trying to clear the ball and unfortunately hits Van Persie right on the back of his head."

Celtic manager Neil Lennon felt it was a "cheap" shot from Williams and understood Ferguson's concern.

"I don't like to see that," Lennon said. "I think it could have been avoided. Maybe Ashley has kicked the ball away and it's a split-second reaction."

"For me it's, I wouldn't say cowardly, but it's cheap, put it that way."