Since Bielsa’s reign, Phillips has become instrumental to the team and has played the second most amount of minutes in the championship out of the Leeds United squad, which shows his importance. He has become our most key player in Bielsa’s 4-1-4-1 and we all know about him and how good he is, so let’s delve into the statistics and analytics to figure out why he is so good and important to the team.
Phillips role is to be the lynchpin between the defense and midfield as this allows the wing backs to bomb on forward without leaving the team so exposed. Phillips is required to sit just in front of the two center backs and link play with the midfielders, he does this with his impressive ball distribution that is amongst the best in the league. He has developed into an excellent deep-lying midfielder with his expert ball distribution being used to full effect in a Bielsa side which averaged 59.5% possession this season. Phillips contributed to a huge 10.3% of all Leeds United’s total passes this season which is the highest of any player in the squad, he also has the highest successful pass ratio in the squad boasting an impressive 82% pass success ratio in the championship this season. This shows that he is a vital cog in Bielsa’s complex machine and without Phillips pulling the strings this season Leeds lost 3 out of 4 games when he did not start so who knows how well Bielsa’s style of play would have gone down in the championship without him.
Phillips attempted a massive 2573 passes in the championship this season and 70.4% of them were made in the opposition half, which shows most of United’s football was played in their opponents half. However, he only made 260 passes in the final third and this shows that he did his job excellently by never really pushing forward leaving the team exposed and instead sitting in his deep role just spraying the ball about the pitch. He would either keep possession by making a simple pass to the open man or use his amazing vision to pick out a wide player with an excellent switch. The switches that Phillips is capable of playing are so key to how Leeds play as it allows them to move the opponent about with ease creating so much space for them to attack into. He would often hit a
The other side to Phillips role is the defensive duties that come with it. Defensively he has excelled this season and has needed to, as Bielsa’s teams are known for their high intensity press and emphasis on recovering the ball as soon as it is lost. He has accepted this challenge and taken it by the horns and this is shown by the numbers he has produced. He has the most ball recoveries this season with a mighty 321 and 7.3 per game and is also first in tackles won with 116 and 2.64 per game. Phillips has the third most interceptions, total duels won and blocked shots only falling behind Liam Cooper and Pontus Jansson which is no surprise due to their positions. These numbers show us a few things about Kalvin, one thing it shows us is that his abilty to read the game and anticipate what the opponent will do next is incredible as he spots where a pass will go two passes before it even gets there, then places himself in a perfect position to swoop in and intercept or tackle the opponent to recover the ball and start another attack. Another thing it shows us is his grit, hard work and determination to win the ball back and give everything to the team.
Phillips is a real testemant to how good Bielsa is at developing players as before this season Phillips was considered average at best and is now attracting bids of over ten million pounds. He has developed at an alarming rate and in two years his transfer value has gone up by 400% according to transfermarkt.com. I would compare Phillips heavily to Fernandinho, they perform near identical roles in very similar systems. obviously he has a long way to go before being as good as him but is definitly on the right track and if he continues to develop at this rate he could easily become as good in the future.
If you want to look at a showcase of Phillips traits and skillset which I highly recommend doing then watch this video created by FocusOnLeeds https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vIpAzuU9BpI. Go follow him on Twitter and Youtube at @FocusOnLeeds and A big thanks to @LUFCDATA as a lot of the data used in this Player Profile was collected by him so go follow and check him out too.
Written By TheYoungPeacock, Thanks for reading.