From whatever angle you look at the Leeds United vs Norwich game from yesterday, it was bad for the home side Whites.
They were outplayed on their own patch. Their defensive solidity was compromised by smart Norwich play, combined with a dogged attitude. In all areas, especially the scoreline, they came a distinct second-best.
As it is, their fans (well some of them) are being left to grasp at increasingly short straws and saying “all three goals involved deflections” etc etc ad nauseam.
There is no disgrace losing to a better side, none at all. On the evidence yesterday, Norwich were that better side and they definitely put the Whites to the sword in an impressive display that saw them head back to the top of the pile.
However, Leeds United were definitely off-colour yesterday to such a degree that you couldn’t single any one player that stepped foot on the pitch as having had an influence for the Whites.
However, Sun reporter Alan Nixon thinks that one thing would change that:
Phillips. Runs the team. Then Hernandez does the magic. The two key man for me. https://t.co/AzhJhAboH7
— Alan Nixon (@reluctantnicko) February 3, 2019
What Nixon says there is pretty much what Leeds United fans will rush to tell you. Under-performing under Paul Heckingbottom, and the butt of many a Leeds United fan’s ire, Kalvin Phillips has become like a phoenix reborn under Marcelo Bielsa.
Since the Argentinian coaching legend instilled his particular brand of football at Elland Road, Phillips has been gaining the plaudits rather than the pelters. Like Solvite, the local lad holds the side together and gives it a sense of cohesiveness.
Usually deployed as a defensive midfielder, his metronomic distribution is a key factor in getting Leeds United ticking over and moving in the right direction. It is that element of his play that Nixon references when he says he “runs the team.”
In running the team from the back, this allows others, such as Pablo Hernandez, to spread the magic that ignites the Whites. That’s a simple tweak for Leeds United, and one fans will likely want to see against Middlesbrough next time up.