Leeds United: Red-card threat cut short Phillips' landmark outing
Marcelo Bielsa has revealed that fear of a red card was behind his decision to end Kalvin Phillips' 100th Leeds United appearance after just 28 minutes.
Bielsa said the prospect of Phillips incurring a second booking during Tuesday’s 2-2 draw with Swansea City had forced him to substitute the midfielder inside half-an-hour of his landmark outing.
Phillips, 22, brought up a century of games for Leeds three years on from his first-team debut but was cautioned early on for a trip on Bersant Celina as Leeds came under intense pressure at the Liberty Stadium.
Bielsa moved to replace him with Lewis Baker moments after Oli McBurnie opened the scoring for Swansea.
“He was almost our third centre-back,” Bielsa said. “He had to face Celina, who was a player who created a lack of balance, and he got booked very soon. The development of the game after Phillips got booked didn’t offer the defensive security we needed, which would have allowed us to think Phillips wouldn’t be booked again. Facing this possibility I chose to change him.”
Bielsa also brought a swift end to Gjanni Alioski’s night, withdrawing the winger at half-time because of what he called a lack of “oxygen” from Alioski on the left wing. On-loan Manchester City winger Jack Harrison was brought on for the second half.
“We were not playing deep enough on the left,” Bielsa said. “Our offensive play was better on the right than on the left so I thought we needed to put some oxygen in this sector.”
Bielsa, however, was impressed with the maturity of 18-year-old Jamie Shackleton after a pre-match injury to Liam Cooper led to Shackleton’s unplanned start at right-back.
He produced an assist for Leeds’ first goal, a 41st-minute equaliser from Kemar Roofe.
“I have a respect for his personality, I have respect for his character,” Bielsa said. “From an offensive point of view he did good things.
“In the second half we suffered some attacks on our right side. I can’t answer your question ignoring this reality.”