Brandon Williams returned to Manchester United’s starting line up after recovering from the head injury he sustained against Southampton.
The FA Cup semi-final was the biggest game of his young career so far, and it was not a successful one for him or his United teammates, with Chelsea winning 3-1.
Williams will be disappointed with aspects of his performance.
Chelsea’s first goal came from a cross down his left side, and then he gave the ball away to Mason Mount for their second, although of course David de Gea should have stopped the shot.
Nonetheless, Solskjaer is looking to the positives, and made a point of singling Williams out for praise.
He was impressed with how Williams responded to the error and felt the 19-year-old’s effort and application deserved to be highlighted.
Solskjaer told the club website: “You saw Brandon and the character he showed. He played a square pass into Mount [which led to their second goal] and he probably felt a bit responsible, but for the rest of the half he was absolutely outstanding.
“The kid has been out for a while and not played, and had the eye injury, but his character and personality out there was great, he kept going and kept going.”
Williams made two interceptions in the match, which was more than any United teammate managed.
Solskjaer looking to pick Williams up
Solskjaer is always positive in his press conferences, and admittedly his United players gave him very little to work with.
It was probably a reach to say Williams was ‘absolutely outstanding’, but the United manager was looking to pick the youngster up.
Williams is only 19 and this was his first ever game at Wembley. Solskjaer will want him to leave with some positive feeling, so that the game does not leave a mental scar.
United may need Williams this week too, with Luke Shaw’s injury status uncertain and unaddressed by Solskjaer in his post-game comments.
If Williams is required to start against West Ham, Solskjaer will want him in confident mood, and this helps explain why he made a point of trying to praise the teenager.
Solskjaer will be closely monitoring Williams’ mentality heading into the West Ham game.
He was clearly impressed with how he picked himself up after Chelsea’s first two goals.
But if he sees Williams being downbeat in training this week, Solskjaer will look at an alternative.
That could be Luke Shaw if fit, or it could be United’s third option, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who came on and got a few minutes at right-back late on at Wembley.
He did well against Palace on Thursday night, and the prospect of throwing him into a big game does not seem as scary as it might have done a week ago.
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