53. Brandon Williams - Season Review

Manchester United youngster Brandon Williams signs new long-term contract |  Messenger Newspapers
Image from Messenger Newspapers 

Key Stats

  • Name: Brandon Williams
  • Date of Birth (Age): 3rd September 2000 (20)
  • Signed: 17th October 2019
  • Appearances: 36
  • Goals: 1
  • Assists: 2
  • Pass Percentage: 85%
  • Successful Presses per90: 3.57
  • Shot-Creating Actions per90: 2.03
  • Contract Expiry: 30th June 2024

Analysis

Brandon Williams' meteoric rise to first team football may have begun with being included in the squad that won at Les Parcs des Princes in that infamous Paris comeback, but he would not feature on the pitch for six months. He made his debut as a substitute against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup in which United won on penalties but most fans did not see enough of him in those 45 minutes to make an instant opinion about him but it was against AZ Alkmaar when many fans saw what he could offer. In what was a disastrous game in the attacking sense, his defending was something that caught the eye and his runs down the left hand side were something United had been lacking at the time as Luke Shaw was injured and Young didn't make those runs anymore. 

While he would not start his first Premier League game until the 3-1 win against Brighton in early November, he was influential in the 1-0 win against Partizan as he won the winning penalty with a great run into the box, solid at the back as a wing-back against Chelsea in the 2-1 win in the Carabao Cup and made a handful of substitute appearances in the middle but had not displaced Ashley Young until that game in November. He then started and scored a crucial goal against Sheffield United to start the comeback that eventually finished 3-3 after being 2-0 down but a poor performance against Aston Villa and the return of Luke Shaw meant Williams barely featured until late December as he started against Burnley in a 2-0 win at Turf Moor. 

After a disastrous performance by Luke Shaw in the 2-0 defeat to Arsenal, Williams started six games in a row while Luke Shaw was in and out of the side as a left sided centre-back at times and until Shaw's form improved and the pendulum swung back towards the former-Saints' man during United's unbeaten run. However, an injury to Shaw against Southampton saw Williams have a long run in the side and while he was, for the most part, solid, fatigue hit Williams and he made some crucial errors and struggled to both make attacking contributions and cover defensively as United bowed out of two competitions in the post-lockdown campaign. Overall, Williams has established himself as a great squad player for the first team and has been drip-fed into first team football and added strong competition to Shaw on the left and potentially Wan-Bissaka on the right. He has been solid defensively for most the season, made strong and intelligent runs and has the fearlessness and mentality of a Manchester United player who wants to compete for his place and at the age of 20, he will only improve. 

Season Rating: 7.5/10

Ambitions for Next Season?

What he needs to do is improve his attacking output. He makes great runs and gets in great positions but the common issue with all of United's fullbacks is the lack of quality in their crosses and attacking passes. He averaged 0.84 crosses per game and that can easily increase with the right training. It looks like Solskjaer is hinting at moving Williams to a right back and bringing in either Reguilon or Telles to compete with Shaw which would allow the likes of Dalot, Fosu-Mensah and Laird to leave permanently or on loan. I think this would help his attacking play as he would be naturally on his right foot and can improve his crossing in this position. I think he has a very bright future and I think his tenacity and attitude will push the other fullbacks at the club to be better if they are to stay in the lineup. 

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