Is Brandon Williams ready to step in for Luke Shaw at United?

As Brandon Williams sat in a Parisian hotel in March 2019, the message from his manager was broadcasted far and wide. “We believe in you,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had publicly told Williams and his young academy teammates. A number of them had travelled for Manchester United’s European clash against PSG. 

Williams did not feature, but the experience was an incredible one; a magical European night, one of the most memorable of the last two decades. 

Photo by Julien Mattia/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Now first-choice left-back Luke Shaw is injured, Williams may finally get his chance after that brief taste of the adrenalin and hard work back in March. 

United fans are keen to see someone other than club captain Ashley Young fill in at left-back. Williams is backed by many to be ready after celebrating his 19th birthday at the start of September.

RONALDO NEEDS TO STOP WHINING.

Brandon Williams can play on both wings

Capable of playing on both flanks, Williams has developed into an attacking left-back as he’s captained United at U18 and U23 level. Captaining the under-23s on three occasions, he’s already created four goals in four Premier League 2 fixtures this season.

Expert on United’s youth teams, regular Twitter updater @jb851 explained Williams’ qualities to United In Focus.

“He’s an attacking full-back who uses his long stride and turn of pace to burst forward,” Jack said. “Having spent time as a winger earlier in his career, he’s equally comfortable going down the outside to deliver a cross or cutting inside to link play or have a pop at goal himself.”

Relative to his level, Williams is a greater attacking threat than Luke Shaw. The elder player’s contributions higher up the pitch have been below par since his gruesome injury back in 2015.

Williams’ future at United looks certain to be on the left flank. The depth offered on the right side in the young pairing of Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Diogo Dalot, as well as Ethan Laird, sees to that.

Like many talented full-backs of his generation, Williams comes with defensive limitations, as Jack (@jb8521) explained to us.

Is Williams too eager to attack?

Williams’ biggest problem as he makes the step up to senior football is that “his eagerness to get on the front foot can lead him into some rash situations both in terms of tackling and being caught out of position defensively.”

First team debut or not, this is Williams’ first full season in Premier League 2.

Whether he can begin to adjust his game to offer a more balanced attacking-defensive output remains to be seen, but the excitement that surrounds Williams’ future is justified.

Quick, direct and productive, Williams will always be an enticing prospect in many senses, but it’s now up to him to prove himself defensively to first-team coaches. A chance in the wake of Shaw’s injury could be the start of that.

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Life-long Manchester United fan with a strong interest in the club's academy. Host of the Manchester United Weekly Podcast and United Through Time. First game at Old Trafford was the 7-1 rout of AS Roma in 2007.