By Beck Pascal

22nd Feb, 2022 | 6:30am

Marcelo Bielsa shows the severity of Leeds United issue - Graham Smyth

Graham Smyth has shared a damning statistic that highlights a major problem for Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United. 

The Whites have conceded a whopping 28 goals in just nine matches without key midfielder Kalvin Phillips. 

Much to Smyth’s surprise, Bielsa touched on his absentees after the 4-2 loss to rivals Manchester United.

He wrote for Yorkshire Evening Post: “In what felt like a departure from his usual post-defeat script, Bielsa brought up the absence of Kalvin Phillips.

“For a head coach who never accepts as an excuse his being without key individuals to even mention the England midfielder spoke volumes of just how problematic that area was.

“It wasn’t just a Phillips problem, Bielsa said, but the first-half departure of understudy Robin Koch to a head injury and the need to move Pascal Struijk, who replaced Koch in the role, back into the defence.

“Shipping four goals took the tally Bielsa’s men have conceded without Phillips to 28, in just nine top-flight games.”

Unbelievable season

Bielsa is well within his rights to make excuses or simply touch on the fact he is without key personnel. 

What many people don’t realise is just one player missing can have a massive impact on the whole system, especially a player as important as Phillips is to the Whites. 

These players have worked so hard in training and the way the consistent starters play is just second nature to them now having repeated the same tactics over and over again. 

When you replace them with a player who isn’t nearly as familiar with the role or doesn’t even play that position, it can have a knock-on effect all over the pitch as seen this season. 

Phillips is due back from his problem at the start of March, and it is very clear that couldn’t come soon enough for everyone at the club.

In other Leeds United news, Martin Tyler and Gary Neville have shared a ‘huge’ transfer issue for the club.