Chris Sutton has played down suggestions that England fans have singled out Leeds United star Kalvin Phillips for unfair treatment.
Phillips has started in both of England’s last two games in the past week as the Three Lions recorded a 5-0 win over San Marino on Thursday before dispatching Albania 2-0 on Sunday.
The Leeds ace looked at home in the middle of midfield but it seems he has been the target of fans’ ire as evidenced in some replies to a tweet by the official England Twitter account praising him after his display v San Marino.
— England (@England) March 25, 2021
According to one England fan, Phillips was “a mile off” against San Marino and was the “worse player out there” in a tweet that received 120 likes, while another fan said he was “shocking“ which garnered 139 likes.
Speaking on 5Live’s Football Phone In with Robbie Savage and Chris Sutton [28/03/21] a Leeds fan phoned up to complain about the perceived slight by England fans on Phillips, a view he says is shared by a large section of the Whites fanbase, but Sutton dismissed this notion.
He said: “Who’s getting on his back? That’s just social media isn’t it? I don’t know, I might be wrong but I’ve not seen a lot of criticism for Kalvin Phillips.”
The tweets underneath England’s Phillips appreciation post prove that it is not a baseless assertion centred on paranoia.
There is a feeling among Whites supporters that Phillips does not get the due credit he deserves for some sensational displays as our midfield pivot.
Declan Rice and Jordan Henderson are considered to be the top two candidates for England’s midfield pairing this summer while James Ward-Prowse has also attracted plenty of praise for some pinpoint deliveries and unnerving accuracy from free-kicks.
However, Phillips is often less regarded due to the deeper role he operates in for Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds.
He does not score goals – zero this season and three in the league since 2017/18 tells the story – but his inclusion in the Whites team is still absolutely vital and he is deserving of more praise by England fans.
Perhaps they don’t watch enough of him in a Leeds shirt or pay enough attention in-game to note the little intricacies as he wins the ball back and slots it through midfield for the attackers.
Phillips may not be the most eye-catching of players who will burst forward and hit one from 30 yards but that should not diminish his abilities and it’s high-time England fans acknowledged them.
In other Leeds United news, Roy Keane hails ‘mature’ Whites ace.