When Kalvin Phillips was sold to Manchester City in the summer of 2022, Leeds United fans were rightfully devastated. To some, it felt like breaking up with their true love. For others, it was like watching a lifelong friend leave to live in another country. Not only did Leeds lose a local lad who loved the team, but they also bid farewell to a player who is arguably the greatest academy product in the club’s history.
It seemed a tough ask to replace Phillips, who had been so integral to United’s promotion back to the Premier League. But Victor Orta managed to do so with the acquisition of two midfielders to operate in Jesse Marsch’s system. The question now is whether Phillips is missed at Elland Road.
Phillips Still Had an Effect on World Cup Betting
Phillips’ profile was boosted massively in a short space of time under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds. He quickly became an integral part of England’s set-up and played a major part in shoring up the defence for the Three Lions. Now, Gareth Southgate’s charges are formidable and expected to easily pass the group stage at the World Cup. This was reflected in the betting markets, and people who bet on England v USA will have noticed that the Three Lions were placed as favourites to win at odds of 12/25. This is thanks to their excellent tournament record over the last four years, and also due to up-and-coming players like Phillips who have improved the team.
Despite having been injured for a lot of the 2022-23 season, Southgate felt that Philips was too important to leave out of his side for the competition in Qatar. However, the situation at Leeds is different. Few Leeds fans would say that they miss Phillips now, as his replacements have been more than adequate.
Unsuited to The System
When Phillips was at Leeds, he earned the nickname, the Yorkshire Pirlo for his stunning exploits in the centre of the park. The Yorkshireman was one of the best defensive midfielders in England when Marcelo Bielsa was in charge at Elland Road, and he was perfectly suited to the Argentine’s 4-1-4-1 formation. Phillips only played a few games under Jesse Marsch, but he didn’t look quite as comfortable playing in a new formation.
The new signings that have been brought in to replace Phillips show what Marsch wants to do on the pitch. They press with high intensity and cover a vast amount of space when attempting to break up attacks. This is accompanied by a strong link-up play designed to kick-start high-speed offences on the opposition goal – which normally occur through the middle of the pitch.
Phillips was different. He shielded the back four and broke up attacks as well, but he also had incredible vision. The former Leeds man would often pick the ball up deep and then spray it long and wide to the wingers. This initiated a rapid transition as well, but in a way that wouldn’t work under Marsch, as the American manager doesn’t use traditional wingers.
Many thought that losing Phillips would significantly damage United’s chances of staying in the division. However, this season, it’s the midfield that looks like the strongest part of the Elland Road side. Phillips isn’t missed at all, and he’d arguably be unable to show off his main attributes under the new manager anyway.
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