Kalvin Phillips has been the most discussed and debated player at Leeds United in the last couple of years and it’s been tough for a player who has been around for what seems a very long time. Only the likes of Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi have been around the first-team for as long as Phillips, and yet, he’s still proving himself.
Every fan has a different view on a player, even if it’s very slight. Phillips seemed to split fans down the middle in the last couple of years, going back to the first and only season under Garry Monk. Steve Evans hadn’t really given him a chance in the previous campaign and although Redfearn and Rosler had used him in parts he was never a player who would expect to be playing come the day of a game. That all changed under Garry Monk. He and Ronaldo Vieira joined Eunan O’Kane and Liam Bridcutt in competing for two midfield positions.
Phillips was mainly used in a deeper midfield role with another, most notably Ronaldo Vieira, although he and O’Kane played plenty together. He established himself in the eyes of Garry Monk but many fans weren’t convinced with his contribution. He played his fair share of games and the arrival of Thomas Christiansen last summer saw him moved into a more attacking role, despite playing from the same area. A brilliant start soon faded away and he struggled throughout, the question marks that never really left him were back.
Next up was Marcelo Bielsa and it was very clear before Bielsa even arrived that Phillips would be part of the plans. The midfielder was at Thorp Arch over a week before anyone else returned because he was working on his fitness and not long after Bielsa arrived Phillips revealed he was playing as a centre-back in training. This went on and developed as he played some time at centre-back in the final pre-season game. He started the season in the anchor midfield role and has impressed in most games…
The two games he struggled in were hard for him, and he was hooked before half-time in each. For any footballer Sunday League to World Cup this isn’t a good feeling. After both games Phillips has been backed by Bielsa and then returned in the following game to produce a very good and assured performance. There is little doubt the question marks over him have helped him get to where he is now.