In comments reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Kalvin Phillips has admitted that he was left gutted each time Marcelo Bielsa has substituted him during the first-half this season, but insisted that the Leeds boss did not need to apologise for the ruthless calls.
Phillips has been one of Leeds' most influential players this season, with Bielsa deploying the Englishman in the deep-lying midfield role that has allowed the youngster to frequently drop into a back three if required.
But it has not all been plain-sailing for the Whites this term. Phillips was replaced after 28 minutes when Leeds were 1-0 down to Swansea in August, while he lasted just six minutes longer one month later as the Championship high-flyers found themselves 2-0 behind at home to Birmingham City.
Being substituted during the first-half for tactical reasons is often deemed to be a fairly humiliating experience for the player being replaced. And while Phillips conceded that both incidents were difficult to take, he suggested that Bielsa's post-match apologies to the midfielder were unnecessary.
“Obviously I was gutted,” Phillips said, as reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post. “Coming off after 30 minutes is never good but I don’t believe the manager should be apologetic for that. It’s down to me and I should have played a lot better in that game but things happen in football. I just had to keep my chin up and get on with it.
“The manager tells you how it is. He tells you if you’ve played well or if you haven’t played well and if he had to make a substitution, he tells you why. If I’m ever taken off after 30 minutes I’ll never take it in a bad way. I’ll always come in the next day with a smile on my face, wanting to learn."
In fairness to Bielsa, the decisions have had an impact. Leeds secured a draw against the Swans while they managed to get one back against Birmingham. Although they only managed to take one point from the two games, the reshuffles have made a difference.
And it says a lot about Bielsa's man management ability that Phillips is showing no signs of being bitter about the changes. The midfielder may have feared being made the scapegoat on both occasions, but the fact that he understands the decisions the head coach has made shows that Bielsa is doing a fantastic job of keeping everyone in the squad on the same page.
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