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How Marcelo Bielsa Helped Kalvin Phillips Overcome a Rubbish Performance for Man City

How Marcelo Bielsa Helped Kalvin Phillips Overcome a Rubbish Performance for Man City

The bonding between players and coaches is much greater in football compared to other games and nothing epitomises this more than the conversation Manchester City’s Kalvin Phillips had with his ex-manager Marcelo Bielsa.

After a stellar eight-year career at Leeds United, where he was virtually the go-to-man of the Premier League club, Phillips was signed up by the champions Manchester City at the beginning of the last season.

City might have had a great season, but not Phillips though, who found the going initially very tough at Etihad.

The England midfielder struggled for playing time under Pep Guardiola and could make only 21 appearances for City and he was able to find a place in the starting XI only for just two Premier League games throughout the season.

His frustration spilled over and it reached a melting point when he literally broke down following the home game against his former club Leicester in which he came on as a substitute in a match which Guardiola’s side went on to win 3-1.

Crisis man

So upset with himself after his poor performance was that Phillips felt like crying and to seek solace, he turned up to none other his former boss at Leeds – Bielsa.

The Argentinian is not known to be a good communicator when it comes to speaking English and is always seen in the company of a translator, be it on the touch line or in the pre-match/post-match press conferences.

But that did not deter Bielsa, who is currently the manager of the Uruguay national team from reaching back to his former player.

“I got on the phone and messaged Marcelo Bielsa and asked if I could speak to him. I think it was his translator who sent the message, but he said: “Yes, I’d love to speak to you’. So, the translator called me and we had the phone call.

“It was just good to have a chat and he basically told me that I have the ability, it’s just down to confidence and being positive. And since that conversation I’ve been as positive as I can,” Phillips revealed ahead of the launch of ​Kalvin Phillips: The Road to City, which will be aired on Prime Video from July 19.

The conversation with Bielsa did a world of good for Phillips , who seemed to be a completely different player after that frantic phone call in April.

Ending on a high

“Getting through that and seeing the rewards coming at the end the season with the treble, it was a nice thing,” added Phillips as he ended the season on a high with City claiming a historic treble – retaining the Premier League, FA Cup and the till-now elusive UEFA Champions League crown.

There was more to cheer for Phillips as he scored scoring his first goal for the Three Lions in the 7-0 rout of North Macedonia in a Euro 2024 qualifying tie at the Old Trafford.

A friend in need is a friend indeed goes the adage and the bonding of Phillips and Bielsa, as evident from that call is just a pointer in the case.