Brandon Williams broke into the Manchester United squad in a slightly unorthodox fashion. As a right-footed full back, he forced his way into the side at left back, offering an interesting alternative interpretation of the modern full back role, sometimes playing a more inverted role and utilising his right foot when he could.
Speaking to Jamie Redknapp with the Mail Online, he recalled his first season in the United first team fondly.
“My first season with United was great. I played 36 games, 17 in the Premier League. Then lockdown came. We went into the new season after a very short break and from there, Luke [Shaw] was on fire and Alex [Telles] had just come in. I could have stayed and trained but I knew deep down I had to get out and prove I was a Premier League player.“
And “get out” he did. This season, he’s been on loan at Norwich City, where he’s played a total of 26 matches for them across three different competitions.
Speaking on his first couple of months at Norwich, the 21-year-old said: “It wasn’t the best of starts. All I’ve ever known is Manchester United. Coming to a new club, so far away from my family, was difficult. I was in and out of the team and thinking, ‘Is this right for me?’. But since the gaffer [Dean Smith] has come in, it’s been a real turnaround. He’s helped me and Billy [Gilmour]. He’s getting the best out of us.
“Definitely [it’s hard when you don’t get game-time]. My friends are all in Manchester but here it’s strictly train, recover, eat well, sleep, repeat. Even with my eating – last year I wasn’t focused on it, but since coming here, I’ve felt as fit as I’ve ever been. I’m getting stronger and pushing myself like never before.“
One thing that United fans quickly pointed out and enjoyed about Brandon Williams was his aggressive tendencies while defending. Fans will be able to recall several occasions where he left an extra shove, an extra kick on his opponent while battling for the ball on the Old Trafford turf.
“I love defending,” claimed Williams. “If I make a good tackle, it gives me a burst of energy and I play off that. I need that intensity to get the adrenaline going. When I make a tackle, it can generate energy into the team. It lifts the crowd and that lifts us. I love it.“
One main goal from a parent club’s perspective that is hoped to be achieved when a young player goes out on loan is for them to mature. Brandon Williams certainly feels that he has done so since joining The Canaries.
“I had a talk with the gaffer recently and he asked me, ‘What have you learned?’. I said I feel more mature. I feel like an athlete now and a true professional. I am going to take that back up to Manchester in the summer.“
“I’m playing games now and I love it. I can’t wait for the weekend so I can get to the stadium. There would be no point in me going back to United and just sitting on the bench. I want to play and feel I’m better equipped for the Premier League after this experience. Whether it’s at United or somewhere else, we’ll deal with that in the summer. But I’ve got a job to do here at Norwich.“
Williams is set to return to United at the end of this season. Only time will tell if he can get his way back into the first XI over Shaw and Telles.