Kalvin Phillips was the choice of many Leeds United fans when picking their man-of-the-match on Sunday afternoon as the Whites went six games unbeaten against Manchester United – keeping a clean sheet against a side they lost 6-2 to earlier in the season. Ian Wright has heaped praise on Leeds and Phillips, sharing details of the texts messages the duo sent eachother following the goalless draw in which Phillips marshalled Bruno Fernandes.
In front of Gareth Southgate, 25-year-old Phillips followed Fernandes round the Elland Road pitch like he was glued to the Portuguese ace. He did not give Fernandes a moment to breathe and it is little surprise Leeds targeted the Portugal international – given he has scored 24 goals and created 14 more this season. Phillips stuck to him throughout the match and it nullified anything Manchester United tried to do in the final third.
Phillips has enjoyed a stunning season in which he has become a regular with England and already a certainty for a place on the plane to Euro 2020 this summer. His performance on Sunday only strengthened that as Leeds leapfrogged Arsenal into the top half of the table – after the Gunners suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton on Friday night.
Phillips has earned enormous praise for his defensive performance that kept the ex-Sporting Lisbon ace quiet. Wright, who has endeared himself to Leeds fans in recent history after proving instrumental in a loan move for Eddie Nketiah before staging an interview with Phillips over the last weekend, was full of praise for Leeds, Bielsa and Phillips. He also shared a conversation he had via text message with the Gunners legend.
“Leeds got beat six [at United]. They man mark, follow people around. People say Marcelo Bielsa is one-dimensional, can’t adapt. Leeds, the other day [Sunday], was a masterpiece,” Wright told his podcast Wrighty’s House – which can be found on Spotify. “I sent a message to Kalvin Phillips saying ‘Bro, excellent, fantastic’, and he sent a message back saying ‘that was a hard day at the office’ following that man [Bruno Fernandes] around.”