By George Overhill

8th Nov, 2022 | 12:40pm

Kalvin Phillips shock at hero to zero switch from Leeds United to Manchester City

Kalvin Phillips has revealed his shock to the system upon leaving Leeds United for Manchester City and being “a thousand miles behind” everyone technically.

The Whites local hero moved to the Etihad in the summer for £42million, having be a key component at Elland Road, particularly in Marcelo Bielsa’s side that returned to the Premier League after so many years away.

The 26-year-old became an England regular in his time with United and felt he was a good player, but says he discovered the gulf between him and the rest of his teammates when he started training under Pep Guardiola.

He told BBC 5 Live’s Monday Night Club (7 November, 41min 30sec) in response to a question about the differences playing for Guardiola after starring for one of the Catalan’s main influences in Bielsa: “I think from the defensive aspect we don’t play man to man, with Pep it’s very positional-based.

“And I think just technically, when I came I thought I was quite good technically, and then I walked into training and I was a thousand miles behind every single player that was there.

“So it was just me trying to learn the basics of what position to be in, how to take the ball on my left foot when it’s coming from a different side, how to control it with my right foot and how to manipulate the ball in different ways.”


It hasn’t really been a success for Phillips in Manchester yet due to injury problems, and with Tyler Adams and Marc Roca proving to be solid signings in replacement he hasn’t been missed as much as originally feared.

Clearly the reigning champions, title winners in four of the last five seasons, are going to be packed full of quality players, especially with the money that is available at City.

But it is odd to think that having spent so long under Bielsa that Phillips has had to relearn basic technical aspects of the game.

When the Argentine was in charge at Elland Road he got the better of Guardiola in head to head match ups for a time, with a draw at home and a 2-1 victory in Manchester in the 2020/21 season, before a heavy defeat in his final campaign.

Leeds United are a proud enough club that merely having a player worthy of a transfer to one of the best in Europe is no comforting achievement, but it shows how far Bielsa brought the Whites that it feels almost dismissive of the squad’s quality to be compared unfavourably to the most valuable in the world.

Phillips loves United and wouldn’t have meant anything negative towards them, but it is a measure of the gap between the very top of the Premier League and the rest of the division.

In other Leeds United news, with the club finally willing to sign a new left-back one of their previous targets is definitely available in January as his club have to sell him for financial reasons.