Kalvin Phillips has claimed that Leeds United summer signings Robin Koch, Raphinha and Diego Llorente have all been all taken aback by the ferocity of Bielsa’s infamous murderball sessions.
Phillips was talking in a fascinating interview with Henry Winter in The Times.
The murderball sessions, that take place every Wednesday, are “eight v eight full-on, no-holds-barred 15-minute games” with coaches standing round to throw the ball back into play to ensure no breaks.
Phillips’ description of the sessions are the best we’ve read yet.
“Murderball’s mental,” Phillips said.
“I’m used to it now but for new players that have come in like Robin [Koch], Rafa [Raphinha], Diego [Llorente] after the training session they were looking around, as if to say, ‘What have we done?’
“We got three or four coaches in the middle screaming, plus the manager. Say a ball goes out, they’re screaming at you, ‘Get the ball back in,’ ‘Play.’ It’s 100mph.
“I could clatter you, no foul, play on. People fly into tackles, I’ve done it. I’ve been angry because the manager’s shouting my name and I’ve seen the ball, and gone to tackle somebody, and then thought, ‘I should calm down now because somebody’s going to get hurt here.’”
Leeds were the fittest team in the Championship last season and are already proving how far murderball can take them in the Premier League.
After their first four games they had “covered the most distance so far in the Premier League and are averaging 115km per game in 2020/21.
Leeds have covered the MOST distance so far in the Premier League and are averaging 115km per game in 2020/21. Fulham rank bottom in the top flight with 103km. Leeds also top metrics for most ball recoveries (252), most successful pressures (248) & most tackles won (96). 💪 #LUFC pic.twitter.com/xUC01K8GiM
— LUFCDATA (@LUFCDATA) October 14, 2020
This was talked about with Mauricio Pochettino in the Monday Night Football coverage of the game against Leicester. [Sky Sports, Nov 2, 7pm]
Running this much was a feature of Poch’s Tottenham team, too, who he took from near the bottom of the Premier League in terms of distance run to near the top.
It’s a key part of Leeds’ game and it often leads to accusations his side will burn out, but that was disproved in the Championship winning season.
The murderball sessions are a big part of this and we’d love to witness one live to see just how tough they are.
In other Leeds United news, Insider: Leeds international star leaves squad early, heading back to Thorp Arch