Football News

Man Utd v Rochdale: Brandon Williams in line to solve Solskjaer’s left-back problem

By CJ Smith

Published: 17:54, 25 September 2019

Nineteen-year-old Brandon Williams is set to make his first senior appearance for Manchester United in their League Cup tie against Rochdale on Wednesday, according to reports.

The youngster is primarily a left-back, although he is right-footed and equally comfortable lining up on the other flank.

Who is Brandon Williams? Five key facts…

  • Position: Full-back
  • DoB: 03/09/00
  • Nationality: English
  • Club apps/goals/assists: 55/3/14 (youth level)
  • England U20 apps: 2

This has led to comparisons by some between him and club legend Denis Irwin, who himself was a right-footed left-back during his playing days.

On top of a host of other problems, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer currently has a shortage of options at left-back with first-choice Luke Shaw out injured, Ashley Young advancing well into his 30s and Marcos Rojo doing anything but convince during his time at Old Trafford. Which has led reports to suggest Williams could be in line for an appearance against Rochdale on Wednesday evening.

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Williams has previously been involved in United squads, travelling with the first-team for their famous Champions League comeback win over Paris Saint-Germain last season and at the time, Solskjaer expressed his belief in the defender’s abilities.

Solskjaer said: “Brandon is a full-back who can play both sides, quick. It’s the first time he travels with us, he didn’t expect to come, but that’s part of being here that suddenly you’re called upon, why you’re in the academy.

“We believe in you and suddenly you have to step up that’s why we have good coaches to make them ready.”

Balance the key to success for Williams

Williams is renowned by many as an extremely attacking full-back whose main concern is getting on the front foot. Solskjaer mentioned he is “quick” and based on United’s lacklustre performance against West Ham last weekend, that pace could come in handy throughout the course of this season.

Even so, if he is to make the transition from youth level to senior football with Man Utd, he will have to learn the value of balancing offensive and defensive play.

Although there is no guarantee Wednesday night will be an easy game for United, a match on home turf against lower league opposition should provide Williams with a healthy dose of experience playing among professionals, accelerating his growth and making him a viable option in Solskjaer’s squad.

The Norwegian is also expected to name other youngsters such as Mason Greenwood and Tahith Chong in his squad for Wednesday’s match, while Paul Pogba could get some vital minutes under his belt as he looks to return from an ankle injury in time for their clash with Arsenal on Monday.