It was a nightmare on paper but Brighton gave Neco Williams a vital learning experience. It’s a lesson that will help him grow.
Being hauled off 45 minutes into your Premier League debut seems like a nightmare. On paper, it absolutely is. The manager decided the team would be better off without you there for the second half and was so sure, he didn’t give you a second chance.
Williams experienced that on Wednesday but, in truth, it can end up being a great thing for his career.
The Welshman is a little unique in that he’s actually had senior starts before. Quite a few, in fact, given the way Liverpool’s cup teams have taken shape this season.
Williams had already started games against Arsenal, Everton and Chelsea before even appearing in the Premier League. He’d won two of those, too, and performed very well in every showing.
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Well enough that Jurgen Klopp has clearly made a point to integrate him since the restart. Williams has now played four Premier League games, with substitute appearances against Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Aston Villa before Brighton.
So Williams’ career has actually gone remarkably well for a 19-year-old in his first senior season. Half-season, really. He faced top sides, successfully, and Klopp has already reportedly decided to include him in the squad next season.
Williams’ first setback
What the 19-year-old really needed, then, a different kind of learning experience – something to grow from. Brighton troubled Williams on Wednesday. Not when he had the ball, but in how they attacked down his flank.
Tariq Lamptey, in particular, caused him trouble and created the Seagull’s goal down his side. Williams struggled to cope with the running from deep and lost his position a few times.
But you should expect these things from a young defender. He will make mistakes and he will struggle with certain things – the hope is that he learns from them.
Liverpool have already placed so much faith in Williams that he shouldn’t be disheartened at all by his Brighton display. Instead, his first major setback should simply be a springboard to quickly push him on to even greater heights.