Liverpool assistant manager Pep Lijnders has condemned the online abuse of young right-back Neco Williams, claiming anyone who targeted the teenager is not a true fan of the club.
Despite the Reds' 7-2 win over Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup, Williams was subjected to abuse on social media from some 'supporters' over his supposedly sub-standard performance. Things got so bad that the 19-year-old blacked out all his profiles.
It's an attack which has been widely criticised by many, and Lijnders has now come out to offer his support to Williams, insisting that the abuse goes against the family atmosphere which makes Liverpool so special.
“All I can say is abuse is wrong, through social [media] and on the street,” Lijnders said, via The Times. “It is wrong. Second, you are not a Liverpool supporter if you do not support. The most important thing in difficult times, when people say things that are not right, or not in the right context, is they [players] need to feel the full faith.
“Sometimes you do not need words, but what is much more important is Trent [Alexander-Arnold] spoke with him, Virgil [van Dijk] spoke with him, Robbo [Andy Robertson] spoke with him. It is not just Jürgen [Klopp] or me. That is how we take care of each other. That is what makes us different.
“[It] 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. Neither help you as a young player.”
Williams is expected to start Thursday's Carabao Cup clash with Arsenal, with Klopp expected to select a team similar to the one which saw off Lincoln.
That could mean appearances for the likes of Takumi Minamino and Curtis Jones, although Jordan Henderson, Joël Matip and Kostas Tsimikas and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will all miss out through injury.
Source : 90min