Manchester United full back Brandon Williams was the latest youngster to make his full debut for the club after starting this week’s Europa League meeting with AZ Alkmaar on Thursday.
The 19-year-old, who had previously appeared as a substitute in the Carabao Cup last month, was a sole shining light from an otherwise dismal team performance.
“No better feeling than playing,” he posted on Instagram afterwards.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, meanwhile, labelled Williams as ‘top class’ and praised the young defender for his lack of fear on such a big personal milestone.
“Top class, top performance for a full debut,” Solskjaer remarked to MUTV.
“You’re just so happy for him, you know, he’s got no fear.
United have youngsters from all over the United Kingdom and Europe in their academy ranks and it is a special moment when any of them break into the first-team. But when it is a local player born and raised in Manchester, there is that bit of extra romance attached to it.
A ‘local lad’ from Manchester, Williams is exactly that.
He’s Got Excellent Attributes
The perfect full-back would be a player who has the physical ability to get up and down their flank at speed, the technical skill to both defend and attack well, and someone who has the confidence to constantly be involved and bring it all together.
According to Solskjaer’s MUTV comments this week, Williams has the potential for all of that.
“He’s brave, he wants the ball, he takes people on, he tackles, he’s physical,” the boss effused.
It certainly bodes well for the future if he keeps developing as expected.
Versatility and the ability to operate comfortably in numerous positions is an important part of the modern game and is something that Williams has already shown in his fledgeling career.
He is primarily a left back, the role he filled this week in The Hague, but he has also played at right back this season and last for United’s Under-23 and Under-18 sides. The teenager even filled in at centre back on one occasion towards the end of the 2018/19 campaign.
He’s Captain Material
Williams was a regular for United in the Under-18 Premier League and UEFA Youth League in 2017/18 and was subsequently handed the captaincy at Under-18 level last season.
At the start of this season, he was promoted to the Under-23 squad and immediately took over the armband at the higher level, despite still only being 18 at the time.
He’s Already Been Around the First-Team for Seven Months
Even though he played twice for United’s Under-23 team in January, it wasn’t until this season that Williams made the permanent step up to the second string. And yet, he was still on the fringes of the first-team squad as early as February.
Williams was actually part of the travelling squad that Solskjaer took to Paris for the historic Champions League last 16 second leg against PSG. He didn’t make it onto the bench then, but it shows that he has been on the manager’s radar for a little while already.
Luke Shaw might have genuine competition when he finally returns to fitness later this month.