Manchester United fans already knew about Brandon Williams. They’ve seen him in the Cups. He’s aggressive, confident and direct; that much is clear.
His first Premier League start, against Brighton, was just as impressive as all his other appearances so far. He went off to a standing ovation from Old Trafford and looks like he’s now the club’s best left-back.
Many assumed Williams would get a number of chances this season. Injury to Luke Shaw has helped his pathway but Williams has taken every opportunity in his stride. At this rate, he’ll be United’s starting left-back for next season.
Brandon Williams loved by United fans after Brighton performance
He’s an intense player. He squared up to Maupay in the first half and shoved his studs into a Brighton player’s chest in the second. Even after a booking for that second offence, Williams was aggressive and charged up the field unfazed.
He made three tackles and each of them drew noise out of Old Trafford’s East Stand in the first 45 minutes, and Stretford End from thereon after.
For the counter-attacking side that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to build, Williams is a great option to have. He steps forward quicker than Young or Shaw when United regain possession.
He demands the ball out wide and his first touch is always forward rather than back. That style of play has its issues – Williams lost the ball three times on Sunday against Brighton – but it helps United to be the quick and incisive side that they want to be.
Williams must move above Young in pecking order
Solskjaer has managed Williams’ progression well so far. To see Young play ahead of him has sometimes been frustrating and confusing but it was probably the right call.
Now Williams has shown he is capable in the league and this is the moment where things should change. He has to be higher in the pecking order. When Shaw comes back, the competition and rotation will be healthy for both of them.
Near the end of Sunday’s game, United captain Harry Maguire drew Williams in for a hug and a word, presumably of praise. The 19-year-old was subbed off in the final 10 minutes and that allowed Old Trafford to rise as one.
Rashford had just gone off but the reception for Williams was far greater than that for United’s goalscorer.
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