Kalvin Phillips has discussed Marcelo Bielsa in his England press conference on Thursday, stating that the Argentine’s willingness to change formation while they worked together at Leeds United makes him adaptable at England level.
Phillips, 27, squeezed himself into the England squad at the last minute. Something he previously felt was beyond him given his shoulder surgery, which has limited the midfielder to just four brief appearances for Manchester City.
At the World Cup, Phillips was handed the majority of the second half during the 3-0 win over Wales. With the score at 2-0, it was Phillips who clipped a perfect long ball into the path of Marcus Rashford. The United star made it three.
He then came off the bench against Senegal for the last 10 minutes. It was Phillips’ turn to be on media duty on Thursday and he spoke about how Bielsa would like to change formation – comparing him to Gareth Southgate.
“When I played at Leeds, I played under a manager that changed formation every 15 minutes. So I am used to changing formation, I played centre-half at times. So, if that happens during a game, I’d be very comfortable doing it.
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“They [Southgate and Bielsa] are very different. People underestimate Southgate. For the last three years I’ve been with England, he’s been amazing. People don’t give him enough credit. He’s an unbelievable man manager,” Phillips said.
Phillips: Bielsa formation change at Leeds makes him adaptable
Phillips is more than likely to start for England on the bench on Saturday evening. But, with Jordan Henderson starting for England alongside Declan Rice and Jude Bellingham, it is likely the Manchester City man will feature off the bench.
Indeed, Phillips is certainly Southgate’s pick from the bench when in need of a central midfielder. Conor Gallagher has not yet been used, while Mason Mount is more of an attacking option. He is more likely to replace Bellingham.
Phillips insisted that it is not frustrating to be playing second fiddle at the World Cup in Qatar. But given he played almost every minute as England reached the Euro 2020 final, he will surely be bemoaning his injury problems.