The Manchester United arrival that proved a Shrewsbury Town game-changer
Nobody could have imagined the impact Ro-Shaun Williams would have at Shrewsbury.
The 20-year-old has won plaudits from his manager and several team-mates for settling seamlessly into life in the senior game.
There was a lot of buzz surrounding the defender when he joined from Manchester United late in January. That was mainly because of the situation he was walking into.
Sam Ricketts’ team had just conceded four goals – including a last minute winner – at rock-bottom Bradford. Something was required.
After the buzz came an air of curiousness. A loan was initially mooted in the press before Town officially announced a two-and-a-half year deal.
Williams was a highly-regarded prospect from the United academy. Nurtured throughout the age groups, he had been part of summer tours and it was even suggested he could be the future of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s backline after he was called up to first-team training around Christmas.
So why had United let him leave permanently? Had they given up on his pathway to the first team? Odd – given Solskjaer’s youth drive.
The answer is they didn’t necessarily ‘want’ to – albeit were clearly willing to. It was more Williams’ desire to play proper football.
Now, the boyhood United fan is two-and-a-half months into his senior career and could barely have impressed more.
Manchester United’s long-term loss may be Shrewsbury’s gain very much in the here and now. A Town defence featuring Williams has lost just three of the 12 games he has started since his Salop (and senior) debut on February 9.
They have won five, drawn four, and conceded just nine goals.
In the 10 league games before his introduction Town had lost five, drawn four and won just once, conceding 17 times. It isn’t all down to Williams – other players have stepped up and a tactical tweak suits Ricketts’ side more – but his introduction has been a game-changer this season.
The defender is passionate. See him celebrating in front of the away end at Gillingham as just one example. He is a sure-fire future fans’ favourite. He is also mature, calm, demanding. He isn’t afraid of barking orders at more senior colleagues.
He expects a lot from himself and beats himself up if a pass or touch goes astray.
On Saturday, where Town all-but sealed their League One safety, he dealt with giant forward Tom Eaves with ease.
Ricketts was full of admiration after the game as the boss gave his exciting defender unprompted praise.
He said: “I think you can see the togetherness.
“You can see the desire from the players in their performance, then you see it at the end of the game.
“Ro-Shaun, for a young lad stepping in, you can see his passion for winning the game. It’s second to none.
“It was another very, very good performance from such a young lad.
“His desire to win, talking during the game, and showing passion to fans at the end. They earned that celebration from the hard-fought 90 minutes.
“Ro-Shaun’s character and attitude is why I brought him to the club.
“It was nothing to do with where he’s been, I wasn’t interested he was at Man United. It was what he wanted to do with his career, he’s in charge of his career.
“He wanted to prove himself and he’s proving himself.
“There’s plenty to go but he’s doing it.”