Leeds United may have lost to Wolves on Monday, but dropping three points isn’t the worst thing to come away from this game.
Indeed, the Whites have come away from that match with a worrying injury to a key player as Kalvin Phillips looks set to miss six weeks of action after damaging his shoulder against the Midlands outfit.
Usually, an issue wouldn’t be such a problem for Leeds as their near-£100m spend this summer has left them with a lot of alternatives in key areas, but one thing they don’t have is a Phillips replacement.
Phillips plays a very unique role as the anchor-man in Bielsa’s 4-1-4-1 formation, and there isn’t another player in the first-team squad who plays that role like he does.
Adam Forshaw would be a decent replacement, but he’s still not fit, and even if he was, he’s not played for a year.
Leeds should have planned for this eventuality, professional footballers may be incredibly fit, but they’re not robots, injuries happen, and missing Phillips for six weeks will completely unbalance the team.
There quite simply isn’t another player in the squad who can play that role, so somebody will have to be a makeshift defensive midfielder playing out of position.
There’s no doubting that Phillips is one of Leeds’ most important players, he’s started every game so far this season and he’s an England regular these days.
He was tipped to shine in the Premier League as soon as Leeds were promoted with Kevin Phillips describing him as a ‘top player’, but now the reality is that they will be without a key man for six weeks and seven points from five games suddenly doesn’t look like such an amazing return.
The worst part is that this could all have been avoided. Victor Orta had lots of money to play with this summer, spending nearly £100m, and he completely ignored the blatant need for a back-up defensive midfielder, and if that ends up derailing United’s season, it will be an inexcusable error that the Spaniard has made.