Liverpool rally around young full-back Neco Williams after social media abuse

Chris Bascombe
·3-min read
Neco Williams with Harry Wilson during a training session at Melwood - GETTY IMAGES
Neco Williams with Harry Wilson during a training session at Melwood - GETTY IMAGES

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and his players rallied around youngster Neco Williams after the full-back was subject to social media abuse after last week's Carabao Cup tie.

The teenager was targeted by a section of supporters who criticised his display against Lincoln City, a reaction which prompted him to blackout his Twitter account.

While those criticising were themselves the subject of a backlash from fans bemused and embarrassed by the negative responses towards a player who was a key member of an outstanding 7-2 win, Williams was suitably upset enough to require reassurance from his manager and teammates.

Assistant manager Pep Lijnders addressed the incident ahead of Liverpool’s League Cup tie with Arsenal on Thursday, in which Williams is sure to feature.

“We had players speaking with him. We had our manager speaking with him,” said Lijnders.

Neco Williams in action against Lincoln City - GETTY IMAGES
Neco Williams in action against Lincoln City - GETTY IMAGES

“First of all, and this is most important to understand, Neco is a doer. A doer makes mistakes. We don’t want safe play. We don’t want a player who doesn’t take risks. Our game is based on everyone taking initiative from every position and that is what we want. One of the lessons for each young boy coming through - and each player - is it is a weakness if you get caught up with praise and criticism. I think he dealt with it really well, to be honest.”

Williams rose to prominence with a series of eye-catching performances in last season’s domestic cups, the right-back rewarded with a new contract and a call-up to the Welsh national team. He scored on his international debut earlier this month. His experience last week was another reminder of how social media can negatively impact young players still adjusting to the limelight. 

“That is a phase he goes through. But again, you cannot get caught up with praise or criticism. Neither helps you as a young player,” added Ljinders.

Liverpool will be without £10 million left-back summer signing Kostas Tsimikas on Thursday due to a thigh injury, and captain Jordan Henderson is not expected back for first-team consideration until this weekend’s trip to Aston Villa.

Kostas Tsimikas and Trent Alexander-Arnold battle for the ball in training  - GETTY IMAGES
Kostas Tsimikas and Trent Alexander-Arnold battle for the ball in training - GETTY IMAGES

Xherdan Shaqiri, Taki Minamino and Curtis Jones are all expected to feature after their impressive performances last week.

Jones is making rapid progress, impacting with goals or assists each time he is called upon.

“Curtis is the type we really like,” said Lijnders. “He has so much bravery, so much courage and so much self-confidence. The proper self-confidence - not the wrong one. He is probably the most offensive midfielder we have. He is the first one who makes the surprise move in the box from midfield, the first one who shoots.

“These young boys are not talents any more, they are proper squad players. We are really happy with his journey. He is a boy from the city so ambition, passion is always there.”

Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still a few weeks from contention as he continues to recover from a knee injury.