Kalvin Phillips began the 0-0 draw with Brighton at centre-back before moving into midfield in the first half; He was substituted at half-time, initially thought to be because of injury; Leeds head coach Marcelo Bielsa said Pascal Struijk was better suited to the game
Sunday 28 November 2021 07:33, UK
Marcelo Bielsa says Kalvin Phillips' half-time substitution at Brighton was not due to injury, explaining his tactical reasons, as Jamie Redknapp believes "something is not quite right" between the Leeds pair.
The England midfielder was one of two changes at the break - Junior Firpo also being replaced after a torrid time up against Tariq Lamptey - and initial reports suggested he had picked up an injury.
Phillips had once again started the game at centre-back - as he did against Tottenham last weekend - but moved into his usual midfield position during the first half before being hauled off.
But Bielsa explained why he made the decision, telling Sky Sports: "It was a change because I thought the characteristics of Pascal [Struijk] were better suited to the game.
"The game position he had had a lot in common with Tottenham and I thought that forming the back four with Llorente, Phillips, Cooper and Firpo would help us to neutralise them.
"We started the game like that, but it wasn't the correct decision. After, Phillips moved into midfield and it's very likely that the adaptation didn't help Kalvin as he was playing well as a centre-back.
"But I insist it wasn't a question of the names, it was a question of the function collectively."
Leeds picked up their first away clean sheet of the season during the 0-0 draw at the Amex Stadium ahead of a torrid run of fixtures that sees them face Chelsea, Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool in December.
Jamie Redknapp watched the game and felt there has been friction between the Leeds boss and the midfielder over the last few weeks.
With results and performances not going Leeds' way this season - they currently sit three points above the relegation zone with Burnley to play Spurs on Sunday - the Sky Sports pundit questioned if all was well inside the camp.
"I think there's something not quite right. He was definitely detailed to play in defence, but I saw him drift into midfield," he said.
"I listened to the interview he did after the Tottenham game, where he had to hold back a few times. He's an England midfielder, he doesn't want to play as a defender.
"Needs must sometimes, where you have to do whatever is best for the team, but right now Leeds have other defenders that can do the job.
"He wants to be doing the job he's doing for England - that comes with frustration and comes, to a certain extent, with ego as well.
"He'll know right now, after the Euros, people are talking about him, big clubs are courting him, people want him, he doesn't want to be playing centre-back for Leeds.
"That's an interesting one. It feels like there's definitely a clash with him and Bielsa right now.
"If I was Bielsa, falling out with players isn't the right thing to do when results are bad. This might be the start of something that isn't quite right at Leeds.
"I've been a big fan of Bielsa's, but when I see his body language, the way they're playing, they're not playing to the level we expect, and falling out with big players is not the move you should be making right now.
"No big player wants to come off at half-time - if you're coming off at half-time, you're fuming. It's a hit to your ego. He will not be happy with that at all."