Faith in young players has been a recurring theme of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stint as Manchester United manager, and Brandon Williams has emerged as the latest promising talent to gain from that philosophy.
Benefiting from Luke Shaw’s long-term injury and Ashley Young’s domestic suspension, the 19-year-old got the nod at No.3 in the Red Devils’ Sunday win over Brighton and took his chance to impress with a dogged and determined yet well-rounded performance that prompted rave reviews from the United faithful.
Having recorded the most-tackles and joint-second-most interceptions of any United player against the Seagulls – four and two respectively – some fans were very quick to point out the teenager’s tenacity, one declaring that he “plays like a lion” and another noting the “fire in his belly”.
Williams has fire in his belly. Exactly what we need in that position. Young is a lightweight.
— Barry Watson (@barry_watson) 10 November 2019
Williams plays like a lion
— Adekunle Adeleye (@adekunle_dreams) 10 November 2019
But this was indeed a multi-dimensional display that saw Williams contribute going forward as well, including a shot from inside the box that must have stung Mat Ryan’s hands even if it was a little too central to cause serious problems.
The England U20 also completed one dribble, created one chance and had a passing accuracy of 85%, which lead United fans to draw comparisons with some of the all-time greats of the left-back trade who were known for their offensive impact – namely United’s very own Patrice Evra and Denis Irwin, as well as Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos.
Already eclipsed Roberto Carlos’ career
— (@Ixrusso) 11 November 2019
Our next patric evra
— S Magina Jega (@MaginaJega) 10 November 2019
Brandon Williams – best right footed left back I’ve seen since Denis Irwin #MUFC
— Daniel Blinko (@DBlinko_88) 10 November 2019
But perhaps most significantly, Sunday’s performance has seen a number of United fans insist that Williams should hold down the left-back berth going forward, ahead of two far more senior alternatives in Shaw and Young (three including the versatile Marcos Rojo).
Points at FT:
– Utd going for the jugular so late is rare
– Fred's best performance in a Utd shirt
– James electric, Martial once again impressive
– Back to back three goal wins at home
– Rashford good but could have scored three
– Williams HAS to start over Shaw/Young pic.twitter.com/BFMqpNNpkX
— The Peoples Person (@PeoplesPerson_) November 10, 2019
Brandon Williams > Luke Shaw.
Brandon Williams > Ashley Young.
Brandon Williams > Marcos Rojo.
Not even a question..
— Maren 🇳🇴 (@footballqueeen) November 10, 2019
Brandon Williams must start every week. No more Shaw and please god no more Ashley Young
— Stephen Lynch (@Stephen_Lynch88) November 11, 2019
Whether Solskjaer will show the same faith in Williams as these United fans remains to be seen – Young is his captain, after all.
But considering David De Gea was the oldest player in his last starting lineup at a mere 29, clearly opportunities for young prospects is still the flavour of the month at Old Trafford.