Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for both Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams after their performance against Manchester United. The Liverpool boss loved what he saw.
Jurgen Klopp faced a big decision against Manchester United. Ozan Kabak couldn’t play, meaning he needed to pick a partner for Nat Phillips.
The obvious choice was Fabinho, of course. The Brazilian was played well there this season and a Phillips/Fabinho pairing felt necessary to take on Edinson Cavani and co.
But it came with a problem – Fabinho couldn’t play in midfield if he was in defence. Liverpool are much better with him there, offering a shield to the centre-backs and help to the midfielders.
But using Fabinho in midfield meant Rhys Williams would have to play at the back. The 20-year-old is wildly inexperienced, having played National League level last season.
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Yet Klopp trusted him, picking Phillips and Williams to play at Old Trafford. It was a big risk but one that ultimately paid off. It’s safe to say the Liverpool boss couldn’t be happier about that.
Klopp on Phillips and Williams
“The concentration level [Phillips and Williams] showed [on Thursday] night again is immense, absolutely insane what they did there. Against this front four of United it’s not easy,” said Klopp, per Liverpoolfc.com.
“But it was really well supported, I have to say, by our two full-backs. They were really leading the line last night, a lot of talks.
“Rhys is a natural talker on the pitch, which helps as well. So I liked how we organised the last line, that was really good.”
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We were certainly impressed, too, picking out Williams for special praise after the game. What he did up against Cavani, Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes was quite incredible.
You’d be impressed by any 20-year-old defender achieving a win there – let alone one with so little experience. Williams deserves his plaudits.
Phillips was fantastic in holding that defence together, as well. He’s barely experienced at this level, either, yet he marshalled a 20-year-old through the game.
Both have been seriously impressive this season, all things considered. To say they’ve performed above expectations would be putting it mildly.