Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Every team needs players like Kalvin Phillips

Egos are everwhere in football. You need people who are hungry and willing to fight for their position, like Kalvin Phillips. More importantly, top teams need players who won’t complain when they’re not getting picked.

Pep Guardiola on whether Manchester City should sell Kalvin Phillips in the January transfer window:

“My opinion is my opinion, but it’s not the opinion of the club. The club has the final word. They decide; if the agreement is not reached, it’s not done, and we’ll stay. In the end, he’s a player here.

He’s behaved incredibly. One of the most generous players I’ve ever trained, honestly. Another player might have created a problem in the locker room or with me, but he’s completely the opposite.”

Since 2022, when Phillips joined, he has only made 5 starts in 27 matches played, accumulating a total of 771 minutes. Rodri gets all the minutes with 64 starts in 68 matches played, totaling 5,476 minutes.

Kalvin Phillips, in June, on whether he wanted to move to another club to get more minutes:

“My intention is to stay. We’ve just won the Treble, so there is no reason for me to leave. I cannot give it 12 months and say ‘I am not playing, so I am going to leave.’ With many players at City, it can take quite a while to cement yourself into the team.”

Fight for your spot. I love it.

Phillips is not complacent. You can be okay with not playing, but you can’t be comfortable on the bench. He’s willing to power through the struggle of improving. What more could you want? This is invaluable for Pep Guardiola, especially in a position that doesn’t need much rotation.

Some would post something on Twitter about the limited playing time they’re getting, pin it to their profile for everyone to see, and then refuse to apologize to the club and manager like Jadon Sancho did. Others would quietly fight for their position like Kalvin Phillips. Be like Kalvin Phillips, not Jadon Sancho. You keep players like Phillips around.

This is something Chelsea needs: a team with players willing to sit on a bench, not comfortable not playing, but not annoying. Team players. No egos. This is a major part of squad balance. There’s such a thing as having too much talent in a squad. You need players like Marc Cucurella, playing angry due to limited playing time, and channeling that frustration in a positive way against the opponent.

You can’t have a situation where there’s no way back into the squad. You can’t hoard talent. Careers are short, and players know they can start elsewhere in Europe. You don’t want them to become complacent, as if they don’t care about the result.

Featured image credit: Stu Forster/Getty

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