EPL

Guardiola reveals Bielsa talks were key to landing 'perfect' Phillips

By Sports Desk August 20, 2022

Pep Guardiola labelled Kalvin Phillips a "perfect" replacement for Fernandinho as he weighed up whether to hand the England midfielder his first Manchester City start against Newcastle United.

Guardiola also revealed talks with Phillips' former Leeds United boss Marcelo Bielsa proved crucial to City's decision to recruit the 26-year-old.

Phillips joined City from Leeds in a deal worth up to £45million in July, but he is yet to make a first competitive start for the Premier League champions after picking up an injury in training.  

But with Phillips back to full fitness and looking to make his full debut when City visit St. James' Park on Sunday, Guardiola has revealed how he was alerted to the midfielder's quality when Bielsa was coaching him in the second tier of English football.

"He [Bielsa] spoke about him three or four years ago," Guardiola said. "He spoke about him when he was in the Championship. 

"It was the first time I realised Kalvin Phillips played for Leeds and he [Bielsa] spoke with me: 'There is a guy who is really, really good, maybe not now for Manchester City but maybe one day he can play in the top teams.' 

"After he proved Marcelo was not wrong, [he was] promoted to Premier League and national team. 

"The steps they have done is for Kalvin's and Leeds' credit. After Fernandinho decided to go to Brazil, the rest is history.

"We were looking for a holding midfielder and we thought he was perfect for us."

Phillips helped Leeds to a ninth-placed finish upon their return to the Premier League in the 2020-21 campaign, and started every match for England as they fell narrowly short of victory at Euro 2020 last year.

And the City boss is confident he will provide stern competition for Rodri in the City midfield immediately, adding: "We don't have doubts, he is a national-team England player, he was working with Marcelo Bielsa, he's British, that helps in the Premier League a lot, too. 

"Last season he had injuries and you have to be careful right now with the little disturbances he had last week, to try to avoid it in the future. I am sure he is going to adapt.

"Of course he is going to have to know some things we are doing, now is the step forward for him in that position. 

"When September starts it is a game every three days, we will need him and he will prove how valuable he is – we don't have doubts. 

"We know he is an exceptional person; that helps a lot. We knew Kyle [Walker] and John [Stones] for the feel of the English national team players, so he has settled perfectly and so quick."

Related items

  • Mauricio Pochettino feels Chelsea showed bravery in ‘needed’ win over Leeds Mauricio Pochettino feels Chelsea showed bravery in ‘needed’ win over Leeds

    Mauricio Pochettino hailed a “needed” victory as Chelsea bounced back from Sunday’s Carabao Cup final extra-time heartbreak to edge past Leeds and reach the FA Cup quarter-finals.

    Conor Gallagher, who missed two glorious chances in the closing stages of normal time in the Wembley loss to Liverpool, came off the bench to hit the winner at Stamford Bridge as the Championship side were dispatched 3-2 to set up a last-eight meeting with Leicester.

    Axel Disasi and Moises Caicedo combined to gift Mateo Joseph an eighth-minute opener but the Blues turned it around before half-time as Nicolas Jackson equalised and Raheem Sterling set up Mykhailo Mudryk to make it 2-1.

    Leeds levelled just before the hour mark when Joseph headed home his second but Enzo Fernandez set up Gallagher to avoid extra-time and put Chelsea through.

    “We needed this result,” said Pochettino. “It wasn’t a great performance. (Leeds) were a team full of confidence, a very strong team, they are doing fantastic in the Championship.

    “It was tough for us, when you concede after a few minutes. But the character we showed after in this situation, it’s a thing to learn from the team. I’m so happy. We avoided extra-time. We’re in the quarter-final which was our objective.

    “It’s always tough when you lose a final in extra-time. We had 72 hours or less to recover, it’s always difficult. The effort was massive and I say thank you to the players because they made a fantastic effort.”

    Pochettino reiterated his rejection of Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville’s jibe that Chelsea had “bottled” the Carabao Cup final against a Liverpool side bested by injuries.

    “I cannot be angry about (Neville),” he said. “With all my love to Gary, it’s not fair to use this type of word for a team that is so brave, a club that always fights for big things.

    “What can we do? Only with this type of performance show that we are brave and that we can win games. Nothing to say, only to keep moving.

    “It’s not important for us. Because we know how we are and who we are, and how we behave. We know why we lost the game against Liverpool. It’s nothing to do with this.

    “We know that we are brave and that we are working really hard, For us, it’s not an important comment.”

    Leeds boss Daniel Farke reflected on a game that slipped away at the hands of clinical finishing from Chelsea.

    “That second goal (from Mudryk), class finish,” he said. “The third goal, really good action of Gallagher.

    “I’m disappointed because wherever we go, we want to win. I know it’s not realistic we will win the FA Cup, but I wanted to win this and go in the next round. We are a young side, without several key players.”

  • Conor Gallagher hits last-minute winner as Chelsea scrape past Leeds in FA Cup Conor Gallagher hits last-minute winner as Chelsea scrape past Leeds in FA Cup

    Chelsea survived an FA Cup scare as Conor Gallagher came off the bench to score a last-minute winner and seal a 3-2 victory over Leeds at Stamford Bridge.

    The substitute lashed the ball past the visitors’ goalkeeper Illan Meslier to grab what had looked an unlikely victory for much of the game, never more so than when the Blues fell behind inside eight minutes to the first of two goals from Mateo Joseph.

    Mauricio Pochettino’s side rallied and looked to have put their woeful start behind them when first Nicolas Jackson and then Mykhailo Mudryk netted to send them in 2-1 up at the break.

    Leeds would not lie down easy though, and Joseph headed them level after evading Trevoh Chalobah at the far post on the hour mark.

    The home support bubbled with disquiet, sensing another cup mishap after Sunday’s Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool.

    Then came Gallagher’s late intervention to keep hopes of a Wembley return in May alive.

    The opening 10 minutes were dominated by Leeds. They might have taken the lead when Daniel James found space on the edge of the box and acrobatically lobbed an effort wide.

    It was a let-off for Chelsea, but they did not heed their good fortune. From the goal-kick, Axel Disasi played a short pass inside the penalty area that left Moises Caicedo vulnerable. Leeds snapped at his heels, dispossessing him, and the ball broke to Joseph, who cracked it past Robert Sanchez as Chelsea’s defence pointed fingers.

    The first mutterings of discontent among the home support started, but they were doused before they had time to take hold. Caicedo made partial amends for his earlier error, sliding a precise ball through that split Leeds’ defence. Into the space strode Jackson, and he placed it into Meslier’s bottom corner to ease Chelsea nerves.

    Thereafter they settled, and deservedly took the lead after 37 minutes. Noni Madueke carried the ball up through midfield and poked it to Malo Gusto wide on the right. He fed Raheem Sterling, who crossed for Mudryk to cap the move with a delightful finish, glancing it with a deft right foot wide of the goalkeeper and in.

    James skied one over the bar from six yards as Leeds threatened an instant reply. Jaidon Anthony went closer when he curled wide from outside the box, a reminder that a stiff challenge might await Chelsea in the second half.

    Daniel Farke’s team had won nine in a row in the league. Here they went up against Premier League opponents with the courage and skill to suggest they would fare well should they return to the top flight, but their hosts were giving ample encouragement.

    The equaliser was straight forward and entirely avoidable from Chelsea’s point of view. Anthony was given space on the right to assess options and size up a cross. Stealing away at the far post was Jospeh, and his marker Chalobah paid him little heed as he stepped outside the defender and nodded past an exposed Sanchez.

    The murmurs of disapproval began again from the stands, though they were largely drowned out by the away fans’ vocal support. They deserved better than the heartbreak that came as the clock ticked over to 90 minutes.

    Enzo Fernandez was the architect of the winner, darting infield and through the heart of the defence and finally finding the pass that Chelsea had craved throughout the half. Gallagher, with fresh legs from the bench, let the ball run across him and with a swing of his right boot lashed Chelsea into the quarter-finals.

  • Newcastle United co-owner challenges £36m bankruptcy petition in court Newcastle United co-owner challenges £36m bankruptcy petition in court

    Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley has made a bid to throw out a bankruptcy petition against her alleging she owes a shipping tycoon more than £36 million, the High Court heard.

    Ms Staveley, who headed the Saudi-backed consortium that took over the football club in 2021, asked the Insolvency and Companies Court to set aside a demand served by Greek businessman Victor Restis in May last year.

    The claimed figure comprises £3.4 million in principal, £2.1 million in “legal costs and expenses” and £31.3 million in interest, totalling £36.8 million, according to Ms Staveley’s lawyers.

    The specialist court heard it is “common ground” that Mr Restis agreed in 2008 to arrange a £10 million investment in Ms Staveley’s business ventures, but that there was “some ambiguity” about whether this was a loan or some other form of investment.

    In May 2016, the parties entered an agreement.

    According to written submissions by Ms Staveley’s lawyer, Ted Loveday, his client was told to sign various other documents and instruments between 2017 and 2021, which ultimately said she was personally liable and which incrementally topped up that liability.

    “The various post-2016 instruments… were procured by duress, undue influence and/or misrepresentation,” Mr Loveday said.

    “The debt of £3.4 million had morphed into a debt in excess of £10 million, and which was said to exceed £36 million by May 2023,” he added.

    Ms Staveley claimed she felt intimidated into signing the post-2016 documents, the court heard.

    A specialist judge was told that Mr Restis’ lawyer, John Neocleous, allegedly told Ms Staveley that the shipping magnate “was not a man to be messed with, that he was dangerous and that (she) should not cross him”.

    Mr Loveday said in written submissions that she “worried for the safety of herself and her family”.

    “Ms Staveley felt understandably intimidated and felt she had no option but to sign,” he added.

    Mr Loveday also said that Ms Staveley claimed her Huntington’s disease, which she allegedly made no secret of from Mr Restis or Mr Neocleous, affected her thinking and judgment.

    But lawyers for Mr Restis said there is “no evidence” of “undue influence or duress”.

    Raquel Agnello KC told the court that Ms Staveley was sent documents, given time to look over them and given opportunities to make revisions before she signed them.

    In written submissions, Ms Agnello said: “There is a real lack of reality in relation to an assertion of duress as to the agreements.

    “There is no evidence of any unlawful conduct by either Mr Restis or Mr Neocleous.”

    She told the court there is no evidence “beyond (Ms Staveley’s) bare assertion” that Mr Restis is a dangerous man.

    Referring to Ms Staveley’s medical condition in written arguments, Ms Agnello said: “There is no evidence that the debtor actually informed either Mr Restis or Mr Neocleous that she had Huntington’s.

    “Importantly, the debtor does not assert that she informed either of them as to how that affected her in negotiations for the repayment of an outstanding loan.”

    Ms Agnello also said an agreement signed on January 7 2021 “supersedes all previous agreements” and that under it, Ms Staveley is liable.

    Mr Loveday asked the court to set aside the demand for over £36 million because it “raises a claim which ought to be determined by arbitration” and because Ms Staveley has “substantial ground for denying liability”.

    He claimed that the 2016 agreement decided parties would submit their disputes to arbitration and that the same agreement said Ms Staveley is not personally liable and provided for her company PCP Capital Partners to pay.

    Mr Loveday called the interest claims and claimed legal costs levelled against Ms Staveley “stratospheric”, and the imposition of personal liability as having come “out of the blue” in 2019.

    The hearing before Judge Daniel Schaffer is due to continue on March 19, where Ms Agnello will continue her submissions and invite the court to dismiss Ms Staveley’s application to set aside the statutory demand.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.