Kalvin Phillips, the conductor of Marcelo Bielsa’s concerto

18 Aug 2019 08:28 pm, by YorkshireSquare

Whilst Pablo Hernandez may take on the role of principal first violinist in the orchestra that is Leeds United, sorry Patrick you’ll have to be content with second violin for now, there is no doubting that Kalvin Phillips is the conductor. The maestro in defensive midfield, setting the tempo of the game, ensuring all the performers in Marcelo Bielsa’s concerto follow the same metrical rhythm. Be it the short baton gestures of his short passing game or the long gestures of the long balls, Phillips has been a master at guiding the ensemble around the pitch.

His stats on Saturday alone show the importance of his direction to the team. Phillips had 94 touches against Wigan, completing 71 passes (88% passing accuracy), more than any other player on the team, even one more than the whole of Wigan’s outfield starters managed combined. His pass map like musical notation stretching across the whole pitch; demisemiquaver short passes, maxima long balls (16/20 long passes completed), dictating play, directing the symphony to the joy of an admiring crowd.

Kalvin Phillips pass map vs Wigan, image from @LUFCDATA

And it wasn’t just against Wigan that Phillips was so impressive. Against Salford the Yorkshire Pirlo was equally impressive. 128 touches, 99 successful passes (84% pass accuracy), 86 of which were in the opposition, 33 more than any other player. But it’s not just his passing and offensive play which is important, should the ensemble play out of tune, off rhythm he brings them back into line. Three tackles won against Wigan, three aerial duels won, three clearances and one interception. Likewise against Salford, with five ball recoveries setting the team back on track, getting them playing in the right direction again. Over the Championship season so far Phillips has racked up 185 successful passes, second only to Romaine Sawyers. In terms of long passes he has completed 35, the only outfield player to have completed more is Yoann Barbet.

Many fans questioned Leeds United’s transfer activity over the summer but they flat out refused offers for Pablo Hernandez and Kalvin Phillips, perhaps the most important business of the summer. With Phillips conducting the concerto the likes of Hernandez are free to play the solo parts, create the chances and score the goals. The nickname of ‘The Yorkshire Pirlo’ may have been tongue in cheek but it is not so far from the truth, his vision, creativity and passing ability are key to directing Leeds United’s promotion push this season.

Inspired by 1964white (And Kalvin Phillips), data and stats from the incomparable @LUFCDATA

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lufc1304 wrote on 19 Aug 2019 03:38 pm

Spot on comments all round, chaps. I'm also firmly in the camp that KP is a long way from the England team, he's never kicked a ball in the Prem, but I'm also of a mind that the best bit of business we did over the summer was resisiting any offers for him. Crucial cog in the Bielsa machine, everything goes through him. Agree with Cjay re the lunging in, that's going to cost us at some point (not dissimilar to Coops' penalty box wrestling, which makes me equally nervous) and he makes a good point about watching the true greats and how they went about their business. But the fact is that he is one of, if not the, most improved player under MB. He's thriving, clearly loves Leeds and long may it continue.

dezzy wrote on 19 Aug 2019 09:15 am

1964white wrote:
Sun Aug 18, 2019 9:12 pm
Glad you enjoyed my 'conductor or the orchestra' line

Excellent piece :tup:

To his doubters all I ask is 'And now you gonna believe me' ?
Who are his doubters? Has been immense for over a year now

Ratscoot wrote on 19 Aug 2019 06:52 am

Great piece YS and good contribution from 64 & Cjay, Kalvin is turning into our main man and at 23 we have all his best years to come, to get into England we need to be in the Prem so best be this year then MOT

Cjay wrote on 18 Aug 2019 10:06 pm

Still has a long way to go to match the hype imo, the England international stuff sounds great but that is miles off imo.

Look at Grealish, Villa fans and the media raved about him, in the Prem where teams are faster, press more, he is struggling.

KP is greatly improved, his passing has improved, he reads the game better, he deserves great credit for that.

For me he is still a bit slow and this causes him to lunge in to tackles to often or when not given time his passing is rushed and often causes issues because of where he plays. I dont think its a coincidence that he is better now with Forshaw playing, he needs that insurance.

Pass stats are great (i love stats) but he is going to touch the ball a lot in this system, he rarely gets pressed, teams sit off us, so he does have time to pick a pass (which he does well tbf).

KP has improved greatly but he has a long way to go imo, if he can improve his composure when pressed then thatd be a great start (Brentford will test that and from memory last season his passing accuracy dropped significantly).

He reads the game well but the best dms dont dive in as often as him, he needs to work on that.

Not knocking his improvement at all but he has areas to work on (as he would tbf in his early 20s), areas that the best dms are brilliant at.

The Yorkshire Pirlo stuff is nice, actually he could do with watching as much of Pirlo and Xabi Alonso and Claude Makelele and players like that as he can, good way to improve.

Greatly improved KP however.

1964white wrote on 18 Aug 2019 09:12 pm

Glad you enjoyed my 'conductor or the orchestra' line

Excellent piece :tup:

To his doubters all I ask is 'And now you gonna believe me' ?