Kalvin Phillips on Marcelo Bielsa's huge personal impact and Leeds United's 'murderball' sessions

Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips opens up on the impact Marcelo Bielsa has had on his career so far

Monday, 16th December 2019, 12:41 pm
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 1:01 pm
Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips.

Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips believes Marcelo Bielsa has helped him reach a level in his career that he never thought he would achieve.

The 24-year-old Thorp Arch academy product has become one of the best defensive midfielders in the Championship under the Argentine's stewardship.

Phillips has made over 65 league appearances for United since Bielsa's arrival at the club over 18 months ago, becoming one of the first names on the teamsheet at Elland Road.

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Calls have been made for the Leeds-born star to receive England recognition in recent months, but Phillips readily admits he has already reached a level he never thought he would.

"I'm loving it," Phillips told Sky Sports of how much he is enjoying his football.

"Obviously the manager has come in and chose the players that he wanted. He's done very well with me. I wasn't the best!

"I think with him coming in along with the coaching staff and the players around me and the people around me it has helped a lot.

"I never thought I'd be able to do this well. I think just with the way he makes us train at 100 per cent every day. He makes us watch videos on our games. He goes back and tells us what we've done wrong and right.

"He mostly focuses on the stuff we've done wrong, but when you do something right you know you've done well. It's positional play as well. I could have played, well I felt like I could've played anywhere in midfield.

"But he knew what position was best for me and knew where he wanted me to play. I think with his style it has helped nurture me into playing that position. It's been a massive help to me."

Asked about communication with his head coach and Bielsa's loyalty to his players, Phillips added: "He's actually surprisingly good at English but I don't think he wants people to know that!

"He's a modest guy. He tells you how it is. He's honest and tells you what you need to do better and he won't take anything less than 100 per cent.

"If you're not doing that then you'll be punished for it and if you are doing well then the results will come."

A lot has been made of United's fitness regime since the arrival of Bielsa in West Yorkshire, and Phillips admits it is a result of one of the toughest sessions he's ever done which occurs on a weekly basis.

"On a Wednesday we do the toughest session I've ever done in my life," Phillips laughed.

"We do a thing called murderball. Well, we call it murderball... he calls it football! It's just where we play five blocks of five minutes of constant 100 miles per hour football.

"If the ball goes out you've gone staff waiting at the side to throw a ball back in. It is carnage but it's good, I don't think many teams train at our intensity and it's why we're doing so well."