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Brandon Williams Bossing the Left-back Position as his own Showcases Exactly What United Have Been Missing

Brandon Williams

When he arrived at Manchester United from Southampton as a £30million 18-year-old England international in 2014, Luke Shaw was meant to be the Red Devils’ permanent left-back for the next 10 years. Fast forward a little over 5 years, and his potential of becoming United’s future is under serious threat. There’s a new kid on the block now wowing the Old Trafford faithful, a product of Manchester United’s illustrious academy. It’s Brandon Williams!

Although, recent seasons as a Manchester United supporter hasn’t reaped its benefits with success, the club has still produced moments worthy of celebration. One major silver lining in an otherwise fruitless few seasons since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, is the emergence of an exciting group of academy prospects making their name in the first team. The likes of Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Mason Greenwood, Axel Tuanzebe, to the up and coming figures of Angel Gomes, Dylan Levitt and James Garner.

Though, one kid already making a name for himself and threatening to make Luke Shaw a thing of the past at Old Trafford is 19-year-old Brandon Williams.

Thrust into the first-team because of injuries to Ashley Young, Marcos Rojo and Luke Shaw, Brandon Williams has rapidly made the position his own. He’s never once looked fazed by the pressure of filling in.

With injuries to a lack of depth in the squad, Solskjaer has had to turn to his academy and it is a risk that is reaping its rewards. Against Brighton, Williams was in fact handed the Man-of-the-Match award because of his tidy and assured performance in a game where United were desperate for the three points. His positional awareness, bravery and maturity stood out in a relatively comfortable 3-1 victory.

Where United have often been unbalanced in the back line deploying make shift options such as Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo, it’s been refreshing to see a natural left-back in the team. A position that has regularly been a problem for United, now currently looks to be solved. 14 appearances already for Williams, and United have only lost one of those.

The above stat tells its own story about the impact Brandon Williams is having on the whole team. He has restored a defensive resilience in United’s back-line, something that has been missing for much of the season, and never even expected after United shelled out nearly £80million on Harry Maguire. Now United have two full-backs on either flank with the full capabilities of courageously becoming influential both in attack and defence.

Sure, Luke Shaw’s had his fair share of injuries problems, though when he is fit, he’s often looked susceptible in defence and rarely offers an adequate support for Marcus Rashford on the left. Brandon Williams has filled in that role effortlessly.

One of the reasons United lack much creativity in the final third is due to Luke Shaw or Ashley Young regularly failing to provide an outlet for Rashford when he drifts in field. Because of that lack of support, it is easy for defenders to sniff out Rashford’s attempts on the left because there isn’t an alternative beside him to engage and for the forward to use as a decoy.

Brandon Williams has thankfully provided Solskjaer with a solution however, his marauding, non-stop runs off the ball down the left, driving with the ball from deep benefits United’s play. Now opposite full-backs are drawn away from the ball in an attempt to engage Williams’ movement which means Rashford or Anthony Martial have more space to exploit in the final third. It was his relentless energy and determination to get onto Rashford’s over-hit pass that gifted United the penalty in their 4-0 rout against Norwich at Old Trafford.

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Such a trait is clearly being valued by Solskjaer and the whole squad, and its why Brandon Williams is being earmarked as United’s best left-back since Patrice Evra. The 19-year-old’s overall play has rejuvenated a team that’s long been in desperate need of some injection of energy, bravery and drive down the left-flank.

It’s performances like that against Brighton, Norwich, Wolves twice in the recent FA Cup ties, and Sheffield United back in November, amongst a long list of examples from Brandon Williams that is providing United fans with some real excitement in a season filled with many ups and downs. Long may it continue, the signs of Williams’ early development are very encouraging. This is a player worthy of some celebration, how the United faithful have needed those over the years.

Keep following Arsedevils to know more!


Anthony Onifade
A highly ambitious and motivated freelance football journalist always ready to speak his mind regarding the current affairs that arise throughout the footballing world, especially the Barclays Premier League and around Europe within the context of the Champions League. Owner of a well-renowned football website called 'Between the Lines' and a frequent listener and speaker on various football radio and podcast shows. Young, driven, dedicated, determined and a true football fanatic. Expect his contributions to 'It's Round and White' to be extremely engaging.

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