Pundit fears big Kalvin Phillips Leeds rift with Marcelo Bielsa emerging, as instructions ignored

Date published: Sunday 28th November 2021 9:39 - Jonny Whitfield

Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips

Jamie Redknapp has claimed that there is a worrying atmosphere developing between Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa and Kalvin Phillips.

The midfielder has been an unmissable part of Bielsa’s team since the club’s promotion to the Premier League. That has continued this term too, with the 25-year-old making 13 appearances in all competitions.

However, since the international break, Phillips has undergone a change of role. Indeed, he has started the last two matches at centre-back instead.

But the experiment has failed to truly work so far. Phillips moved into midfield in the second half against Tottenham, while he came off altogether at half time in Saturday’s draw with Brighton.

The England international admitted following the 2-1 loss to Tottenham that Bielsa’s tactics puzzled him. Bielsa responded by insisting that he would try to give Phillips as many minutes as possible in his favoured midfield roles.

But the Leeds-born star started at centre-back against Brighton again, only for him to enter the midfield battle instead and for Pascal Struijk to replace him at the interval.

Jamie Redknapp told Sky Sports of the situation:”I think there’s something not quite right. He [Phillips] was definitely detailed to play in defence, but I saw him drift into midfield.

“I listened to the interview he did after the Tottenham game, where he had to hold back a few times. He’s an England midfielder, he doesn’t want to play as a defender.

“Needs must sometimes, where you have to do whatever is best for the team, but right now Leeds have other defenders that can do the job.

“He wants to be doing the job he’s doing for England – that comes with frustration and comes, to a certain extent, with ego as well.

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“He’ll know right now, after the Euros, people are talking about him, big clubs are courting him, people want him, he doesn’t want to be playing centre-back for Leeds.”

Redknapp added that he feels there is “definitely a clash” between Bielsa and Phillips. However, he stressed that the manager falling out with his players “isn’t the right thing to do”, especially with Leeds 17th in the Premier League after 13 games.

Bielsa explains Phillips, Leeds substitution

Kalvin Phillips, Leeds United midfielder in Premier League action at Tottenham

Bielsa said of the switch at half time: “It was a change because I thought the characteristics of Pascal [Struijk] were better suited to the game.

“The game position he had had a lot in common with Tottenham and I thought that forming the back four with [Diego] Llorente, Phillips, [Liam] Cooper and [Junior] Firpo would help us to neutralise them

“We started the game like that, but it wasn’t the correct decision. After, Phillips moved into midfield and it’s very likely that the adaptation didn’t help Kalvin as he was playing well as a centre-back.

“But I insist it wasn’t a question of the names, it was a question of the function collectively.”

Leeds return to action on Tuesday when facing Crystal Palace at Elland Road.


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