Manchester united have been struggling for form this season after a third-place finish in the premier league and an EFL Cup victory last term, having lost eight from a possible 16 games in the current campaign.
One of the primary reasons behind United’s poor start to the season has been an injury list that keeps on growing. The Red Devils have lost a number of key players already through injury, including Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez, who were key players for Erik ten Hag during his debut season in the Old Trafford dugout.
The left-back position has been hit worse than any other area, with luke shaw and Tyrell Malacia sidelined, and Tottenham Hotspur loan signing Sergio Reguilon having just recovered from a hamstring problem
However, United’s issues on the left side of the defence could have been alleviated by keeping hold of one man who is having an excellent season so far.
Manchester United injury updates
At the weekend, Manchester United travelled to Craven Cottage to take on Fulham. Diogo Dalot was deployed at left-back by head coach Ten Hag while Aaron Wan-Bissaka came back into the team in his preferred position on the right.
So far this season, a whole host of players have taken turns filling in at left-back, including Reguilon, Dalot, Victor Lindelof, and even Sofyan Amrabat. In fact, Lindelof has featured more times in this position than any other player this season.
Thankfully, for Ten Hag, Shaw is finally set for a return to the team after the international break this month. The England international was Ten hag,s first choice at left-back in the previous campaign, according to WhoScored, but picked up a muscle injury at the beginning of September and has missed 14 games in all competitions for the English giants. This is his longest spell out of the squad since the 2016/17 season.
Meanwhile, backup left-back Malacia has missed the last 110 days with an unknown injury issue, although the Manchester Evening News reported that the Dutchman underwent surgery on his knee during the summer, causing him to miss the side’s pre-season tour in the USA. Malacia is back in training but his return date remains a mystery for now.
Brandon Williams’ stats this season
Man United do have another first-team left-back on the books by the name of Brandon Williams but the academy product was sent out on loan to Ip switch town the week before the summer window slammed shut. However, with injury problems mounting at Old Trafford, especially at the back, Ten Hag may rue his decision to let Williams leave for Portman Road.
In Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first full season in charge of the Red Devils, Williams became a household name and managed to keep Shaw out of the starting lineup. At one point in the 2019/20 campaign, the fullback’s valuation soared for €10.4m as per Transfermarkt.
Unfortunately, Williams couldn’t sustain his spot in the first eleven past 2020 and quickly fell out of favour at the Theatre of Dreams, spending time on loan at Norwich City when the Canaries were in the top flight two seasons ago.
Nevertheless, Williams has found his form again and has been integral to Ipswich’s excellent start to the season in the championship scoring twice in ten appearances , one more than United’s struggling £3.75k per week star Marcus Rashford. One of these goals was a sumptuous solo run against Preston North End which started in his own half. Head coach McKenna labelled the effort as “incredible”
Williams’ stats this season make for impressive reading when compared to all players in his position in leagues most similar to the Championship, as per FBref.
The 23-year-old ranks in the top 1% per goal for 90min, the top 14% for successful take-ons per 90, the top 10% for through balls per 90, the top 12% for passes into the final third per 90, the top 5% for tackles per 90, the top 2% for tackles won per 90, the top 2% for fouls drawn per 90 and the top 2% for aerial duels won per 90.