With a handful of man-of-the-match performances under his belt, Luke Shaw struggling for fitness and Ashley Young having left for to Inter Milan, it looks almost certain that Brandon Williams will start in Manchester United’s left back position against Liverpool tomorrow.
The ultimate challenge awaits the 19-year-old: containing arguably the Premier League’s most potent attacking force, Mo Salah.
A daunting prospect for any player, let alone a youngster who has played just seven previous Premier League matches in his short career.
Yet the Crumpsall-born full back has risen to every challenge thrown at him so far and there is an air of confidence about him that suggests he will once again thrive on the big occasion.
In August, all eyes were on the likes of Mason Greenwood, Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes as youth players who might make the step up to the senior side this season. But Williams has surpassed them all and all but nailed down a permanent first team birth.
His performances have already earned him a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2022, with the option of a further year.
Williams has also already become something of a cult figure at Old Trafford.
When u watch Brandon Williams you know his heart is on his sleeve.
He doesn’t take a back seat to anyone and anyone who does get in his face is getting it back with interest.
I bloody love him.
— Sav 🏴 🇾🇪 (@jonmikesav8) January 15, 2020
If anyone should know about what it takes to be a Manchester United full back it is Gary Neville, who has taken to social media to extol the virtues of the young star, saying ‘he has that look in his eye of someone that would eat his opponent’s nose to win the match’.
I like Brandon Williams. What I like about him specifically is he has that look in his eye of someone that would eat his opponents nose to win the match. Keep going kid! Oh he can play football to which is always a bonus 👍🏻
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) January 16, 2020
With Liverpool unbeaten so far in the Premier League and United the only team that has managed to take points from them, keeping a clean sheet at Anfield on Sunday will be an enormous challenge. And yet, when you see Brandon Williams’ name on the team sheet, you take a big step forward toward believing it could be possible. ‘We got into the weekend full of confidence’, the defender said after beating Wolves in Wednesday’s FA Cup replay. And that is something you absolutely can believe.