A game of football can be won both on and off of the pitch.
Throughout history, managers have tried to gain a mental advantage over their opposition with the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho mastering this particular art. However, when a club’s player tries to get involved it usually doesn’t have anywhere near the same effect.
Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips’ outburst yesterday is the latest case of this. Speaking in a press conference (as quoted by the Yorkshire Evening Post) ahead of the Whites’ clash against Preston North End last night, the midfielder remarked that: “There’s six more big games to go but hopefully after tomorrow night, we can have a little chill, relax and watch Sheffield United get beat!” Even though the comments were apparently a light-hearted attempt of humour by Phillips, it is not the message that manager Marcelo Bielsa will be wanting his players to be sending to their promotion rivals.
The Blades do not need any more encouragement this season yet upon hearing this revelation, Chris Wilder may use it as motivation to do what Leeds could not do at the weekend; beat Birmingham City. If they can clinch victory at St Andrew’s, United will remain in pole position to secure a top-two finish alongside runaway leaders Norwich City.
Up until this point in the season, the promotion race in the Championship had been played in good spirit yet with the tension cranking up a notch over the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see whether it will be Bielsa or his English counterpart who keeps their cool.
What do you think Leeds supporters? Are Phillips’ comments wise at this stage of the campaign? Does Bielsa need to control what his players say to the media between now and May? Let us know below.