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Neco Williams: Bouncing Back Against Adversity

Written By: Hasib Afzal (@LFCTalk7) - LFC Transfer Room Correspondent

Few weeks back, Liverpool assistant coach Pep Lijnders came out in staunch defence of 19-year old Neco Williams, who was subject to social media abuse, following Liverpool’s 7-2 victory over Lincoln City. Although the Reds ran out as comprehensive winners, a fringe minority of ‘supporters’ singled out Williams for his performance. In response, the Liverpool right back blacked out his social media platform. 

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Speaking ahead of the fourth round cup tie with Arsenal, in the EFL Cup on Thursday, Lijnders said: “It is not for me to comment on social media. The only thing I can say is abuse is wrong – through social media, on the street, it is wrong. Second, you are not a Liverpool supporter if you don’t support.”

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Linjders went on to confirm that members of the Liverpool squad had rallied around Williams: “It was important. If you say you are a family and that you are together, then the most important time to show that is in difficult times. People need to feel full faith. What was much more important was that Trent [Alexander-Arnold] spoke with him, Virgil [Van Dijk] spoke with him, Robbo [Andy Robertson] spoke with him. It’s not only Jurgen or me, it’s how we take care of each other, and that’s what makes us different.”

..It’s not only Jurgen or me, it’s how WE take care of each other, and that’s what makes us different.

It is no coincidence that Robertson, Alexander-Arnold, and Van Dijk spoke with the young Liverpool starlet. Robertson had only just recovered from an error against Arsenal with a goal, Van Djik with a solid performance against Chelsea following his defensive blunder against Leeds, and Trent who faced similar scrutiny from the outset of his career. Liverpool lives and dies by the adage of ‘You’ll never walk alone.’

Only time will tell whether Williams can bounce back. However, what is clear is that he is in the right environment to do so. Klopp and Co' have shown a knack for sticking by their players in the face of adversity; Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, and Fabinho are all notable examples. The question remaining to be answered is, not only whether Neco Williams can come back stronger but, whether he can do it at Liverpool where the spotlight can easily turn any believer into a doubter.