Why Kalvin Phillips has been Leeds United’s unsung hero
Leeds United are off to an excellent start under Marcelo Bielsa. The Whites are currently sitting pretty atop the Championship table and their performances have been immensely aesthetic and exciting to watch.
Known for his trademark high press techniques, Bielsa has admirably set the tone at Elland Road. To be fair, Leeds already look set to get promoted to the Premier League next season and most of the players have fared well. But there is one unsung hero is undeniably key to their successes on the field. And that is Kalvin Phillips.
Bielsa has made many changes at Leeds and one of them includes redefining the midfielder’s role. Prior to this season, Phillips contributed on both ends of the pitch and made his presence felt in the attacking third as well. And his discipline was rather poor as well, considering he picked up 13 yellow cards last season. But he has turned things around for him and how!
Now, Phillips has been moved to a deep-lying holding role. And in Bielsa’s high press system, the player often transitions into a third centre-back during the course of the game.
Since his defensive duties have increased, one might have expected Phillips to receive a greater amount of yellow cards when compared to the previous campaign. But surprisingly enough, he has only received one yellow card so far.
As a result of his defensive heroics, Bailey Peacock-Farrell has seen a reduction in his workload. Despite being Leeds’ messiah on numerous occasions last season, the young goalkeeper has often been just a mere spectator this time around. And surely, Phillips deserves a lot of credit for the same.
Owing to his tenacious style of play, Phillips has been a devastating force for Leeds’ opponents. He is yet to score this term but his contributions on the field are possibly more important than scoring the goals.
His distribution skills have improved as well and he has proven to be the glue that holds the team’s attack and defence together. Furthermore, his excellent ball control has helped the likes of Samuel Saiz and Mateusz Klich to concentrate on attacking.
And his ability to cover large distances have provided Luke Ayling and Barry Douglas the freedom to move forward when Leeds are attacking. Hence, it is safe to say that he has been an excellent performer for the Championship outfit so far.