Jordan Henderson can be the one to help Neco Williams hit the heights Liverpool want from him. The youngster struggled against Arsenal on Saturday.
Williams didn’t quite click against Arsenal. Now, he nearly got an assist early in the first half, only for James Milner to head over, but that was the pinnacle.
Overall, he wasn’t entirely comfortable marking Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – but then, how many teenagers would be? But going forward, too, Williams couldn’t make things happen.
It wasn’t a surprise, then, when Jurgen Klopp took him off early in the second half. Joe Gomez moved to right-back and Liverpool kicked on.
Make no mistake, though – Williams is the no.2 right-back and Liverpool want big things of him this season. The hope is that he can keep developing and become a player capable of handling big games and big players.
But he’ll need help to do that. Help he didn’t get on Saturday.
Missing in action
One thing, above all else, worked against Williams – Henderson didn’t play. The Liverpool captain is coming back form injury and Klopp didn’t risk him at Wembley.
It meant that Gini Wijnaldum played on the right of the midfield three, instead. Now, Wijnaldum is a fantastic player but he’s different from Henderson. He goes about his business quietly and consistently – he’s not a force of physicality and personality.
Henderson is, however. He’s blossomed into a fantastic leader since joining for £20m in 2011, particularly under Klopp. That’s what Williams needed beside him.
Because Williams needed help. He was up against a left midfielder, as well as Aubameyang on the wing. It was too much, both in quality and numbers. If Henderson were there, he’d have had the right type of leader to nurse him through it.
You’ve got to remember that he won’t get that from defence. Gomez plays as the right-sided centre-half and he’s only 23 himself – not an experienced senior pro.
But the teenager requires help as he learns how to play under pressure against elite players. It will take time and having Henderson there would help immeasurably every week.
The captain can lead, he can be physical, and he’s fantastically disciplined in doing so.
Going forward, Liverpool need Williams to have the right player around him if he’s to develop into a star. Henderson is almost certainly that player.