Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa has explained his reasoning for not playing Kalvin Phillips in their 5-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester United on Saturday.
The Lowdown: Leeds thumped at Old Trafford
The Whites were looking to make the perfect start to their Premier League season, but it ended up being a nightmare afternoon at Old Trafford.
Leeds may have equalised through a Luke Ayling stunner early in the second half, but they swiftly found themselves 5-1 down after capitulating against their rivals.
The Latest: Bielsa explains why Phillips didn’t play
Speaking in a Q&A for The Athletic after the game, journalist Phil Hay claimed that Bielsa “said Phillips’ lack of preparation time was why he didn’t feature” against Manchester United, having returned to pre-season later than some of his teammates due to his involvement in England’s run to the Euro 2020 final.
It remains to be seen whether the 25-year-old will start Leeds’ next game at home to Everton on Saturday.
The Verdict: Phillips’ influence highlighted by his absence
If ever anyone doubted Phillips’ influence on this Whites team, you only needed to look at the manner in which their midfield fell apart against Manchester United.
Some of the marking of Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes left a lot to be desired and Leeds lacked their usual tenacity and discipline which exists when Phillips is playing. The Whites won 23 tackles yesterday – just over two per player – whereas the 25-year-old won 2.6 per game by himself last season.
The hope is that he comes back in for the Everton game, or else Bielsa could be risking back-to-back bad results to start the season.
In other news, Phil Hay has provided a key update on one Leeds player. Find out who it is here.
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