Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders described the abuse levelled at young Reds defender Neco Williams as “wrong” as he called on supporters to back the teenage full-back.
Williams came under fire on social media following his performance in Liverpool’s 7-2 victory over Lincoln City in the EFL Cup, with comments prompting the Wales international to black out his Twitter account.
Lijnders hit out at those who criticised the 19-year-old defender and insisted that his approach to the game is what Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool backroom staff are looking for.
“It’s not for me to comment on social media,” Lijnders told reporters ahead of Liverpool’s EFL Cup clash against Arsenal on Thursday. “The only thing I can say is that abuse is wrong, whether it is on social media or on the street. It’s wrong.
“You are not a Liverpool supporter if you don’t support.
“First of all – and this is the most important thing to understand – Neco is a doer. And 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 each position. That’s what we want.”
Well in, @necowilliams01
Williams has been shortlisted for the 2020 Golden Boy award pic.twitter.com/G7tKVrWRsp
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2020
Williams made six Premier League appearances to help Liverpool win the title in 2019-20 and, after signing a long-term contract at Anfield, he scored for his country as Wales beat Bulgaria in the Nations League in September.
Lijnders backed him to come through the difficulties he is experiencing, urging him to not let the comments affect his game.
“One of the most important lessons for a young boy coming through, or any player, is that it is a weakness if you get caught up with praise or criticism,” said Lijnders.
“I think he dealt with it really well. We had players speaking with him, we had our manager speaking with him.
“It’s a phase he must go through, but getting caught up in praise or criticism, you cannot do. Neither will help you as a young player.”