'It just didn't quite work' - Keith Andrews critical of Leeds outfield ace he admits he admires
Former West Brom midfielder Keith Andrews has claimed it is no coincidence that Leeds United have seen their form improve since Kalvin Phillips’ return from suspension.
Phillips, 24, was sent off in the defeat at QPR last month and as a result, missed the games against Millwall, Wigan and Nottingham Forest, with the latter two ending in defeat for the Whites.
The defensive midfielder returned to Marcelo Bielsa’s starting line-up on Tuesday as he helped Leeds earn a good point away at Brentford.
While United failed to win at Griffin Park, you could see there was a massive improvement in the level of performance and that momentum carried into the 1-0 win against Bristol City on Saturday.
Phillips was instrumental in both of those games and Sky Sports pundit Andrews is not surprised because centre-back Ben White, who filled in while Phillips was out, failed to impress him when playing out of his natural role.
“I think it’s done him good personally, he didn’t have the time for Leeds when they went on that tricky run and they missed him in the midfield – there’s no doubt about that,” said Andrews on Sky Sports’ EFL Podcast.
“They played Ben White there against Nottingham Forest and as much of an admirer as I am of Ben White, it just didn’t quite work. It’s not his natural position.
“I’m sure Kalvin Phillips had a little bit of downtime and he cranked himself up. He played in the Under-23s game last week to get some minutes and match sharpness and there’s no coincidence that performances have taken an up-turn since his arrival back into the team.”
Phillips is, arguably, the best player in the Championship.
According to stats by WhoScored, the 24-year-old ranks 10th in the Championship for the number of passes completed per appearance [59.8] while only two other players have averaged more completed crosses per game .
Phillips is also sixth in the league for the number of tackles made per game [2.9], which just goes to show how complete a midfielder he is.
Leeds definitely missed Phillips against Wigan and Forest and, as Andrews says, his return to the side has certainly helped the Whites get back to winning ways.
In other Leeds United news, this striker who was loaned out by Leeds in January is in more deadly form than Patrick Bamford.