Leeds United may have returned to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years in 2020 – but it seems little has changed with the resentment shown towards the club.
Ever since the days of Don Revie’s ‘Dirty Leeds’, the Yorkshire side has been one of the most hated in the country.
Everywhere we go in England, home fans seem to save that extra bit of animosity to show towards us and our players and honestly, we don’t mind that. We thrive off it.
But one thing that has changed since Leeds last played in the Premier League is the role that social media now plays in the world of football and how literally anyone can make an account and spread their idiotic views for the masses to read.
Kalvin Phillips earned his fifth England cap on Thursday night as the Three Lions beat San Marino 5-0 in World Cup qualifying at Wembley and the criticism about his performance has been on another level.
England’s official Twitter account tweeted on Thursday night about how Phillips, 25, covered almost every blade of grass on the Wembley pitch versus San Marino.
— England (@England) March 25, 2021
While it was pretty obvious that Phillips played well – almost any professional player in England could have a good game against San Marino – the tweets that followed show how clear the anti-Leeds agenda still exists among football fans.
Phillips was, according to one England fan, “a mile off” against San Marino and was the “worse player out there”. That tweet received 113 likes.
Another fan said the Leeds midfielder was “shocking“. 137 likes.
Phillips also “constantly gave the ball away against a bunch of farmers”, in the eyes of a West Ham and England fan (he must think Declan Rice is a world-beater).
What exactly did Phillips do wrong against San Marino, then?
We’ve looked at the stats and the answer is pretty simple.
He did nothing wrong.
According to Wyscout, Phillips completed 94 per cent of the 121 passes he attempted against FIFA’s lowest-ranked team. That kind of destroys the West Ham fan’s theory.
But what about those who claim Phillips doesn’t play forward passes? He attempted 24 forward passes, completing 21 of them. He also made 36 of 38 passes into the final third and one of four passes into the penalty area.
Here’s a map of the Leeds United player’s passes versus San Marino.
While you can see a lot of Phillips passes went sideways, they always leaned in a forward direction. He also obviously tried to play plenty of passes into the box and sprung attacks out wide.
Phillips is a defensive midfielder – but some England fans do not realise what that means.
It means that he dictates play from deep, picks out attacking opportunities when he sees them but, mostly, he’s there to move the ball to more advanced midfielders.
Phillips started on Thursday night with Mason Mount, James Ward-Prowse, Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling ahead of him.
Why does he need to play killer balls into the penalty area when that’s the level of talent playing ahead of him in Gareth Southgate’s side?
It’s stupid that we even have to write this but it’s clear from the reaction to Phillips’ performance that social media has given the stupidest of football fans to share their opinion.
They simply do not have a clue.
In other Leeds United news, Robbie Savage claims this Whites player is in the running for the team of the year.