`

How Kalvin Phillips has become indispensable to Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa

0
Have your say

Kalvin Phillips, like many others, has made himself indespensible to Leeds United under Marcelo Bielsa.

A quick scan of the United squad will tell you all you need to know - it's very much made of a squad deemed not good enough last season.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action against Stoke City.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action against Stoke City.

Kemar Roofe and Mateusz Klich were just two of those at Elland Road whose futures at the club had an air of doubt about them following the appointment of Bielsa.

Roofe, who picked up the Championship's August Player of the Month award, notched four goals and two assists before picking up an injury, while Klich has also bagged four times and notched three assists in 11 games after a red-hot start to the season which has seen him return to the international stage with Poland for the first time in four years.

But what about Phillips? A player who has risen through the ranks at Thorp Arch.

The 22-year-old is now onto his seventh head coach at Leeds - a staggering statistic even for modern day football. There's no doubt that the midfielder's growth, like many others before him, was stunted back a lack of guidance from different managers who didn't really know where his best position was.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action at Millwall.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips in action at Millwall.

Now, the irony is that he appears to be able to play anywhere asked of him.

Phillips finished the season under former boss Paul Heckingbottom as a number 10 but now under the Argentine his quarterback role in the heart of midfield for United cannot be understated.

The Argentine has opted to make him his star man in the engine room but it isn't just his ability to win the ball back and cover in middle of the field that has earned him plaudits.

His ability to slot into the centre of defence, which Bielsa demanded of him during Tuesday's 1-0 win at Hull City, hasn't gone unnoticed.

Phillips has featured in every single game this season for the Whites and it is no accident.

There have been troubling moments as he brought up his 100th appearance for the club by being substituted at Swansea City after just 20 minutes with something similar happening against Birmingham City during Leeds' only league defeat just last month.

Yet Bielsa's reliance on a player who many Whites fans were happy to let go in the summer after showing little signs of kicking on from his early promise would've been a shock to even his biggest supporters.

"He adapted himself with a lot of experience and didn’t have any problems to face the new situations," Bielsa said of Phillips role at the KCOM.

"He played as a number four in front of Jansson and Cooper, he played in the line of three and also in the same line as Klich with two defensive midfielders, with Samu in front.

"And he played also as a four in front of Jansson, Cooper, behind Samu and Klich. So he has a capacity to adapt from a tactical point of view that is very interesting. Because in all the zones he defended well and he used the ball well."

That's four different positions in just 90 minutes, yes, four.

The very fact that Bielsa, a head coach of great stature and experience, relies on Phillips in such capacity is testament to both men. Bielsa, for identifying his strengths, and Phillips, for opening his mind to his new role as United's ultimate utility man.

Good coaching can get you far in the game of football. Phillips, and the rest of the United squad, are testament to that. Once a young boy without a position Phillips has now become one of the first names on the team-sheet and has very much come of age under the 63-year-old.