Marcelo Bielsa insists there is NO issue between himself and Kalvin Phillips after Leeds star was hauled off at half-time in Brighton stalemate – but warns him that no player is ‘untouchable’
The Leeds boss started the England midfielder in defence in Saturday’s goalless draw at Brighton before moving him back into his favoured position and then hooking him at half-time.
Speaking after that match, Sportsmail columnist Jamie Redknapp said he felt there was ‘something not quite right’ between Bielsa and Phillips and there is ‘definitely a clash’.
But Bielsa maintains that his decision to substitute Phillips for Pascal Struijk was purely tactical – insisting that it would set a dangerous precedent if no player could ever be taken off.
‘It’s very difficult to imagine that a player can never be substituted from a team,’ said Bielsa ahead of the visit of Crystal Palace on Tuesday night.
‘The logic of football shows that in any game, any player can come off. I thought Pascal was better suited in the second half to the defensive midfield situation that I imagined than Phillips.
‘That doesn’t mean I was correct but I did what I thought was best. But in no way does that mean there’s a difficulty with anyone.
‘It’s never good for a player or a team to think that the positions are immovable and that the hierarchies are within a team can’t be altered ever.
‘It’s not only bad for the player who is untouchable but it’s bad for those who want to alter the positions within a team.
‘In this example, it’s bad for Kalvin to think that he’d never be substituted like any other component of the team, to think that the initial hierarchies cannot be changed.
But the Argentine is aware of the importance of keeping his homegrown hero, who helped win Leeds promotion back to the Premier League last year before becoming a first-choice pick for England.
‘Kalvin is an idol for the Leeds United fans,’ said Bielsa.
‘He’s a popular property with a lot of affection and we all have the obligation to look after the feeling that unites a fan with a team. The fans suffer when they lose an idol.