Neil Critchley has praised the Welshman for his performance in the fourth round of the FA Cup, and highlighted his “humility” on and off the pitch
Liverpool‘s Under-23’s manager Neil Critchley has hailed Neco Williams for his “incredible” display against Shrewsbury, insisting the full-back was the “most dangerous attacker” on the pitch.
Williams played the full 90 minutes of the FA Cup fourth-round replay at Anfield, and it was his pass which led to the decisive moment of the match.
The 18-year-old picked the ball up just before the halfway line with 75 minutes gone and attempted to loft the ball through to Harvey Elliott, who was making an intelligent run in behind the Shrewsbury defence.
Elliot would have almost certainly got on the end of the pass had Ro-Shaun Williams not stretched to make an interception, but the defender ended up inadvertently heading the ball into his own net.
Williams was heavily involved in almost all of the home side’s best moves, and he also made sure that nothing got past him down the right-hand side of the pitch.
Critchley has now singled out the Welsh defender for his all-action performance, highlighting how he was able to put into practice what was discussed during the half-time interval.
“It was a brilliant bit of play [for the goal] but that’s Neco,” Critchley told Liverpool’s official website.
“I thought he was incredible on the evening. He was everywhere on the pitch, he was defending, intercepting, running forward and you’d have to say he was also probably our most dangerous attacker from full-back.
“He had three or four shots at goal and I thought he was fantastic.
“[On the goal] That was the message we said to the boys at half-time. You could say there was some luck involved in the goal but also one of our messages was we need to look in behind their defence a bit more.
“We told them to search the space in behind and we need to have runners to do that. It was a little bit of fortune how it happened but also I’d like to think the boys had taken on the message at half-time.
“We did start to look to get in behind them a bit more because when you are playing against a back five you’ve got to give those defenders something to defend and ask some questions of them, and I thought we did that much better in the second half.”
Critchley added on Williams’ consistency and dedication to Liverpool’s cause: “Neco’s best quality is his humility. He is still the same boy he was a few months ago and he has always been the same.
“He plays every game the same. It wouldn’t matter if he was playing in front of 50-odd thousand at Anfield or playing for the U23s or U19s. He plays the game the same way and that’s his best quality.
“He has been here for a very long time and he’s had great support from his family.”
Williams will likely be back in contention for a place in Liverpool’s starting line-up when they take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in a fifth-round tie on March 3.