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Brandon Williams’ new contract shows Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s commitment to youth

On Tuesday it was announced by the official Manchester United website that 19-year-old fullback Brandon Williams had signed a new long term contract at the Old Trafford club club. The left-back has now extended his contract until the 2024 season, with the option of a further year to be added. This season, Williams made 33 appearances at first team level, scoring one goal and two assists, also playing six times at youth level, not scoring any goals bus assist five.

Williams made his debut in the Carabao Cup match against Rochdale, winning 6-5 on penalties. From there, the player made himself a first team regular following an injury to Luke Shaw finding his feet at first team level and not once putting his head down. He scored his first goal in a 3-3 draw against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, assisting goals against Partizan Belgrade in the UEFA Europa League and against Norwich City in the Premier League.

The mere fact that the player, 19, has risen up to the first team showing the signs of a true United player, not holding his head down when a result did not go their way and continuing to chase the ball after losing it, and keeping chase of a player who managed to get past him. These are all great signs from a player so young and making his way at first team level. The fact he has followed Mason Greenwood is not a fluke, he really is a player that could reach some dizzy heights at United.

On signing his new contract, Williams revealed that it was a proud moment for him and his family having been at the club since he was seven, some 12 years previously. It is something he can feel proud of being that the club has confirmed that they want him around for the next four to five years, something that shows Solskjaer’s faith in the youth at the club, which is clear to see. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Williams said:

“Signing this contract is another really proud moment for myself and my family. Having been at Manchester United since I was seven years old, it’s genuinely a dream come true to be playing in the first team. It has taken a huge amount of hard work to reach this point and it has been really special for me to break through into the squad.

“I’ve learned a lot throughout the season from the manager, his coaching staff and my team-mates and I want to repay the trust that they have all shown in me. I know that everyone at the club is working really hard every day to achieve success in the coming years and I am really excited to be a part of that.”

Solskjaer, speaking about the 19-year-old’s new contract at the club explained that he had an excellent first season at the club and that his new contract was testament to his hard work and the progress that he has made since his debut against Rochdale to his performance in his last match, which was the final Premier League match of the season with United beating Leicester City 2-0 to finish third in the Premier League and therefore earn a place in the UEFA Champions League next season. Solskjaer said:

“Brandon has had an excellent first season, so we are delighted that he has signed a new contract. This new deal is a real testament to his hard work and the progress that he has made since his debut.

“Brandon never looked back after stepping up from the Academy and, having come all the way through the system, he understands what it means to play for Manchester United.

“He has all of the attributes required to be a member of this exciting young squad. He will continue to learn every day in training and we look forward to watching him develop over the coming seasons.”

Williams’ rise to the first team will be something that the liked of James Garner, Teden Mengi, Ethan Laird and even Hannibal Mejbri will be inspired by. United will promote youth players to the first team when the manager feels they are ready. Sir Alex Ferguson did it often but the club lost its way during the management tenures of David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal and of course Jose Mourinho. The club is back on the right tracks now under Solskjaer who has entrusted many youth players, some of whom have earned their places in his squad, showing the conveyor belt of youth players that chances are there to be earned and that if you do well, are there for keeps, as long as the player is progressing.

Written by John Walker

Manchester United to offer Brandon Williams bumper new contract – reports

Manchester United are reportedly set to offer 19-year-old Brandon Williams a new long-term contract at the Old Trafford club. The reports come from The Athletic and the £4,000 per week that Williams currently gets per week could be severely increased. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seems keen to secure the player to a new contract.

Williams emerged in the first team this season, playing 27 times before the coronavirus pandemic suspended world football, scoring one goal and three assists. He also played five time in the Premier League 2, which is for the U23 players, assisting four more goals. Williams signed his last contract back in October.

However, after his rise in the first team this season, a contract that will expire in the summer of 2022, albeit with an option to have another year added on, is not going to keep the player at the club long-term with other clubs keeping an eye on the progress of the player. With the way he has adapted at his age is great to see.

When Williams signed his last contract, it was reportedly made clear to him that the terms would be improved once he had cemented his place in the senior team, which is what he seems to have done with just hime and Luke Shaw as out and out left-backs, despite the fact he can play in the right-back position too.

United were reportedly looking for a new left-back but with the emergence of Williams and the fact that both he and Luke Shaw could bring out the best of each other and reports have since stated that United have since called off the search for a new left-back, seemingly happy with Shaw and Williams. On his rise into the first team, Williams said:

“His hunger is a lesson for everyone who wants to be a footballer, the attitude he’s showing.

“It’ll be up to him, myself and the club to keep him that hungry.

“I don’t expect him to change because he he’s got the heart for it.

“He’s been absolutely outstanding since he came in. Every challenge we’ve put in front of him he’s tackled on.”

November Review: Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Brandon Williams up for November Player of the Month award; Scott McTominay a notable mention

Manchester United played five matches in the Premier League, and the UEFA Europa League and the Carabao Cup during the month of November. United started the month poorly with a 1-0 defeat away to Bournemouth after a largely positive October. United then got back to winning ways with a 3-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League, securing their place in the latter stages of the competition.

Back in Premier League action three days later, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side welcomed Brighton and Hove Albion to Old Trafford, beating them 3-1, scoring three goals in the last two consecutive matches. Positivity at last and the start to the end of the injury spell at the club. After the match, club football was on the hiatus for a fortnight because of the final international break of 2019.

To end the month, United drew 3-3 against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the Premier League, coming from 2-0 down to lead 3-2 before a controversial goal, given by VAR shared the points on offer with United seemingly beaten for 70 minutes of the match. The Reds travelled to Kazakhstan for their penultimate Europa League clash, losing 2-1 to Astana but still topping the group.

Mason Greenwood – five appearances, 209 minutes, two goals and one assist.

The 18-year-old has made five appearances in November, playing 209 minutes of football, scoring two goals and one assist, meaning that he has scored a goal every 104.5 minutes and has a goal involvement every 69.6 minutes. It may something that aligns him with the likes of Robert Lewandowski but for a player who has risen from the academy, lacks first team experience and is making a name for himself, these stats are admirable. Greenwood is a good rotational player and playing with more experienced players, it will enable him to raise his game some more.

Marcus Rashford – four appearances, 337 minutes, three goals and one assist.

Marcus Rashford has the more impressive goalscoring and assisting stats in the month of November. The 22-year-old made four appearances across November, for his club anyway, scoring three goals and assisting another, playing a total of 337 minutes of football. This means he has scored a goal every 112.3 minutes, having a goal involvement every 84.25 minutes. In his last eight matches, for both club and country, Rashford has managed to score eight goals, which shows he is in great form at this moment in time and probably a player who will, in the end, win the Player of the Month award for November.

Brandon Williams – three appearances, 190 minutes, one goal plus determination, desire and fight to succeed.

Brandon Williams has made three appearances in November, playing 190 minutes of football which resulted in him scoring his first goal for the club, the goal which put United back in the match last weekend against Sheffield United, inspiring United to score two more goals in seven minutes, seeing United take the lead for the first time in the match. However, a late equaliser led to points being dropped. Williams has the desire, determination and fight to succeed at United. For me, he is head and shoulders ahead of Luke Shaw in the left-back position, which is win/win after five years of stagnation in that position.

Notable Mention: Scott McTominay, three appearances, 255 minutes, one goal

Scott McTominay missed the last two matches due to injury, although he would not have travelled to Kazakhstan anyway. The 22-year-old has risen to become one of the better midfielders at the club and you can see just why Jose Mourinho valued the player as highly as he did. McTominay made three appearances in November, playing 255 minutes of football and scoring one goal, which at the time was adjudged to be an own goal against Brighton and Hove Albion. Hopefully, in December, McTominay will rise up and show his ability and perhaps be in the running for December’s Player of the Month award.

Who is your Player of the Month for November 2019?

A look at what lies ahead in December…

In December, United will play nine matches, which looks set to be a busy period for Solskjaer and his squad. They will start the month at home to Aston Villa (1/12), then to Tottenham Hotspur three days later (4/12). An away match to Manchester City then follows (7/12) before home matches against AZ Alkmaar (12/12), Everton (15/12), and Colchester United (18/12). United then face Watford away (22/12), Newcastle United at home (26/12) and Burnley away (28/12) to end the month.

Brandon Williams can put pressure on Luke Shaw’s position at Manchester United

Brandon Williams has made just eight appearances for Manchester United this season, playing a total of 507 minutes of football; 192 in the Premier League, 180 in the UEFA Europa League and 135 in the Carabao Cup. The 19-year-old, despite not having much experience, has taken his chances when he has played and showed something that has been more beneficial than it has not for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team.

Williams came through the club’s academy, making his U18 debut in the 2016/17 season. He has played for the U19s in the UEFA Youth League and for the U23s, unto and including the current 2019/20 season. The 19-year-old has played 63 times at all levels in the academy (10 appearances from the bench), scoring four goals and assisting a further 15, which for a fullback, who can play on either side, is a good record.

This season, with Luke Shaw playing just three times before a long-term injury, having Williams in the squad has been a big positive. Ashley Young has played in the left-back position at times this season and to say there is little positivity from that would be quite true. Other than experience, the veteran winger-cum-fullback does not really offer much, either going forward or in defence.

Luke Shaw signed for United in the summer of 2014, just before Louis van Gaal took over as the manager, after guiding the Netherlands to third place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Shaw, arriving from Southampton for £27 million, a fee which could have risen to £31 million on total over the years. Injury, lack of fitness and other things have plagued Shaw over the years at the club and he’s still only 24.

Last season, Shaw scored his first goal for United, against Leicester City in the opening Premier League match of the season, a 2-1 victory for United in a match which was his 67 appearance for the club. On Sunday, in the 3-3 draw with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane in the Premier League, Williams opened his account with United, getting them back into the game after being 2-0 in a moment which inspired United to not only equalise but take the lead, despite conceding in the 90th minute.

Williams seems to have a lot more confidence than Shaw, which might stem, with Shaw, from his devastating double leg fracture at the start of the 2015/16 season. However, that is no excuse for not raising his game and becoming a player that should be worthy of a starting position at a club such as United. If Shaw is not careful, despite signing a new contract just over a year ago, which would keep him at United until 2023.

This season, in the Premier League alone, Williams has played four times and Shaw has played three times. In the matches Williams has played, United have conceded four goals, whereas in the matches Shaw played in, United had conceded just two goals. Granted, that does not suggest anything with either player. The fact remains that Williams has seemed to offer more than Shaw and has taken his chances with confidence.

Williams has made six tackles, winning three of them, has made three interceptions, one clearance – a headed clearance, made 12 recoveries of the ball, has won 12 duels, lost nine duels, also winning all three of his aerial duels. The 19-year-old has made three fouls, been booked twice but has also scored one goal, a good finish against the Blades. He’s got more to learn but seems so much safer than Shaw.

On the other hand, Shaw has made three tackles, winning all of them, three interceptions, two clearances – one of them headed, 10 recoveries, winning 12 duels – losing seven, winning six aerial battles – losing four. Shaw had committed one foul and has not been booked in the league. There are some similarities, which is a negative for Shaw, as Williams in nearly five years his junior. For me, Williams should be the one given more opportunities, which might cause Shaw to buck up his ideas.

Brandon Williams to get first team opportunity now that Luke Shaw is out of action for Manchester United?

Manchester United left-back, Luke Shaw is facing a month on the sidelines following a hamstring injury sustained in the first half of the 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on Saturday. This has not yet been confirmed by the club, however, it seems likely that the 24-year-old will spend a period of time out of action.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a bit light in the fullback department this season with Diogo Dalot also on the sidelines with a minor injury, meaning Ashley Young, who replaced Shaw on Saturday, one of two options at left-back with Matteo Darmian the other. There is, however, a further option with Brandon Williams doing well for the U23s in this position.

Williams, 18, has played in all four of the U23s matches this season, beating Rotherham United 2-0 in the EFL Trophy, West Bromwich Albion 5-0, Reading 2-0, and Newcastle United 4-0, all in the Premier League 2, Division 2. The academy graduate has four assists to his name; one against Rotherham and Newcastle and two against West Brom.

The 18-year-old has played 360 minutes of football for the U23s this season, every available minute he could play in their fourmatch unbeaten run. United were meant to be playing Lincoln City in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday but the match has to be arranged for another date. Williams will be expected to face West Ham United on Friday.

If Solskjaer decides to call the teenager up for the first team, which he has done once before ahead of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg clash with Paris Saint-Germain back in March, a match which United won 3-1, knocking the French team out of the competition. However, Williams did not make the match day squad.

Solskjaer may need to find a solution based on the fact that Young was poor when he played last season and that is only expected to continue as he best days seem to be behind him. He could be an option for one match but a better one will be needed. There is a chance that Williams could add competition for Shaw, bring the best out of both players.

It will be a gamble but in football, there needs to be a gamble. Sir Alex Ferguson, who Solskjaer will hope to emulate, which may or may not happen, took risks, especially by introducing the likes of Gary Neville, David Beckham, Nicky Butt, and Paul Scholes to his squad, which already had Ryan Giggs in it. The class of 1992 had arrived.

I am not saying that the youth players that United currently has are as good as the class of 92 but if you do not try them, you do not know. One thing against bringing Williams into the first team is the fact that Angel Gomes is not really making waves in that area when he should be. On Saturday, Gomes should have started but was omitted from the squad.

This could suggest that Solskjaer is not ready to bring in the talented youth at his disposal. Gomes is able to use his small frame to do things other players cannot and Lingard lack creative ability, which can be seen by the lack of goals and assists in his career. If the gamble is not taken by Solskjaer, it is likely that Young could find himself out of his depth.

Williams is comfortable playing at either right-back or left-back but predominately plays the latter position. He has made the position his own this season in which U23 boss Neil Wood and assistant, Quinton Fortune will be tasked to find promotion from division 2 of the Premier League 2, reaching top-flight status after two seasons out.

The fact he has four assists in four matches is telling about his attacking ability but also the fact that the U23s are yet to concede their first goal of the season also shows his defensive ability, along with that of his teammates. I am not saying he’s the reason for the goals or the lack of conceding them. It is a team game after all.

Williams captain United at U18 level last season and his performances would have been one of the reasons that Solskjaer selected him to step up to the first team, for experience sake, ahead of the PSG match in Paris. Last season, at U18 level, Williams scored four goals and two assists in 22 appearances, adding two more assists at U19 level.

Shaw had his best season at United last season, after suffering some major injuries and fitness issues since he signed for the club in the summer of 2014 from Southampton. However, in terms of breaking forward, there has always been questions about Shaw and how well he fits in as the left-back at the club.

I suspected that Diogo Dalot could wrestle the left-back position from him, however, with the Portuguese teenager also on the sidelines, that cannot happen for the foreseeable future. If Williams is given the opportunity, it might be hard for both Shaw and Dalot, if the left-back position is one for him, to break back into the team.

This summer, Nicky Butt left his role as the academy manager, becoming the first-team head of development, enabling players to make the transition from U18 and U23 level football to the first-team. Butt could well see now as the time for Williams to make the step up to the first-team, which could also be the best chance for him.

copyright: JW