Ex Leeds United man on Gareth Southgate's tight Kalvin Phillips call, Tyler Roberts' 'damper' and why he tipped Sheffield United for the drop

I wish I’d played more games and won more caps for my country.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 5:36 am
TIGHT CALL - Gareth Southgate has two young talents for the defensive midfield role in Kalvin Phillips of Leeds United and West Ham's Declan Rice. Pic: Getty

Every time you get the opportunity, you don’t want to blow it, writes Dominic Matteo for the YEP.

When you do what Tyler Roberts has done, everyone looks at it, it’s highlighted so much more than it was. In my era, we could probably even get away with going for a couple of beers the night before a game, but now everything is so much more analysed and highlighted that you’ve got to toe the line.

It’s a bit silly, for Tyler to be doing things like that. He’s obviously got ability and he was in good form but things like this put a damper on it.

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Rob Page is the Wales gaffer right now. I’ve played against him and he was quite tough, very loud and I didn’t think he’d be the type to take any messing around. Obviously he isn’t.

I was probably guilty of a bit of stupidity when I was a young player, so I can’t come too hard on anyone. It’s a mistake I might have made, but there is a time and a place. When you get opportunities, you have to take them with both hands and, at the moment, with what’s going on in the world, everything is a bit stricter, everything is being looked at, so you can’t make silly mistakes. It's life, you move forward and learn from it and I'm sure Roberts will.

In more positive news, I’ve been buzzing watching Kalvin Phillips play for England.

We knew the opposition weren’t going to be amazing, without being disrespectful, but it was good to see him go about his business, being confident on the ball and looking like he’s ready for this.

It maybe took him a few games to settle into the squad but he’s settled in nicely now.

Gareth Southgate obviously likes him, he’s watched a lot of him and knows what everyone in Leeds knows, that Phillips is a great talent.

Whether Southgate goes with Declan Rice or Phillips or plays them together will be a big decision for the summer. I thought, before this international break, that Rice was just ahead of Phillips, due to his experience, but now I’m not so sure.

Either way it’s a very tight call. The good thing is that England have options. Both players can fill different roles, too. They’re both top, young players.

Although Phillips will be loving the England camp, I think everyone will welcome the return of Premier League football again this weekend, especially with a derby game to look forward to.

I tipped Sheffield United to go down, along with Fulham and West Brom, before the season began.

When it came to the Blades, I just couldn’t see the goals, where they were coming from. They didn’t score that many last season when they stayed up and did so well. Billy Sharp has been a goal machine for certain clubs but he’s coming to the end of his career and Rhian Brewster, the kid they got from Liverpool, I didn’t think would get the service he needs.

They did an incredible job to get from League One to the Premier League but I thought that ‘second-season syndrome’ might set in and they’d run out of steam a little bit.

When you’re predicting these things, you have to go with your gut feeling but I will be sorry to see this game go, next season, because they’re ones that the fans enjoy.

They’ve just not been good enough, Sheffield United, for a number of reasons.

I think Leeds are done and dusted, when it comes to staying up, but you always want to finish well.

You don’t want to think yourself safe so everyone’s ‘on the beach’ all of a sudden. If I was these Leeds players, I’d want to finish as strong as possible and there are always opportunities to be had - especially for anyone hoping to make the Euros.

You wonder if Marcelo Bielsa might give chances to a few of the younger lads, once it’s mathematical and Leeds are definitely safe.

He’s trying to find his best back-four and that’s something that can be looked at in the final games.

Left-back is a position that needs to be sorted out in the summer, however.

That and another striker would be the positions I would highlight when it comes to the transfer window.

Patrick Bamford has been unbelievable but another striker to bring some competition and a few more goals to the table would help everyone. The role Patrick plays is very hard so, whoever they get, has to be a certain type of striker, with that ability he has to put himself about, press and score goals.

I always like to see a striker come in; it gives everyone a lift.

I remember when we signed Mark Viduka and you’re thinking ‘yes, I love that’.

If Leeds want to progress next season, you will need someone else to chip in with maybe 10 goals or more. A big-name striker would put a little pressure on Patrick, too, and help him and the team to keep improving.

There won’t be too many additions in the summer but, as a player, you love to see a couple of new faces coming in.

If you get three or four, it’ll be a real boost for next season when Leeds want to push on a little further in the plan to get back to where they once were.