After yet another away game without a win, Ole Gunnar Solskjær has some serious thinking to do about how to improve Manchester United’s fortunes between now and the end of the season.
Sitting in 10th place in the Premier League, the Red Devils are going to be on the backfoot now and, with the limited squad they possess, will not be feared by any visiting team looking for those crucial three points.
Manchester United might have brought in three talents in the summer transfer window to bolster the team, but the club are still a number of core players away from getting anywhere close to where they want to be.
An area on the pitch that has been most disconcerting in recent years has been left back. Luke Shaw was signed from Southampton to lock down that position for years to come, but after the Englishman’s double leg break in 2015, he is yet to sustain a season without any injuries or consistent performances.
In the Red Devils’ latest Europa League fixture against AZ Alkmaar, it was Brandon Williams who stepped in at left back after a successful start to the season with the reserves. In his five appearances in the Premier League 2, Williams has four assists and has had the armband at 19-years-old.
Manchester United quite clearly rate the England youth international highly, which is why he has played against Rochdale in the Carabao Cup, as well as Rotherham earlier in the season in the EFL Trophy.
Shaw is only 24 himself with a contract that runs until 2023. It is plain to see that his attacking output is nowhere near what it should be, which is why attention is now being turned to this position by the fans in order to add another dimension to the team’s attack.
The former Southampton full back was close to exiting Old Trafford under José Mourinho’s harsh treatment, but signed a new five-year deal 12 months ago. There has been a slight improvement under Solskjær, but he is not yet regained his confidence he had when down on the south coast, nor when he first joined the club.
Williams looks hungry and motivated to challenge Shaw and begin his understudy role this season. In his 90 minutes against Alkmaar, on a poor surface pitch and in a team that is drastically underperforming, Williams came out on top and looked a class act.
Of course, the young left back is going to have moments that highlight his rawness, but at 19, it is to be expected. There is a great maturity shown by Williams in a defensive manner, which is coupled with his eagerness to get forward and try to create something in attack.
There are bound to be more twists and turns in this season for Manchester United, but one thing that is for certain is their youth are ready to make the next step and challenge the seasoned professionals who are not quite cutting it.
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