Sky Sports pundit Don Goodman believes that Leeds United defensive midfielder Kalvin Phillips has been the best player in the Championship this season, despite officially snubbing him for another player.
Phillips has been sensational for the Whites this season, his high-calibre displays helping the Elland Road side up to top spot in the table and on the brink of a return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004.
The 24-year-old was given his debut at Leeds by Neil Redfearn in 2014 and spent his formative years in the first team as a central midfielder, but Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival at Elland Road in the summer of 2018 saw him pushed further back.
Phillips has since prospered as a defensive midfielder to the extent that the Leeds faithful have nicknamed him the “Yorkshire Pirlo” and there have even been calls for England manager Gareth Southgate to consider giving him a call-up.
Despite his heroics this season, Goodman named Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic as his player of the season as “strikers always get the glory”.
“Scoring 23 goals in 34 games speaks for itself,” Goodman wrote on Sky Sports. “You look at West Brom and they have players chipping in from everywhere, but Fulham don’t have that.
“He has scored 23 of their 52 goals, which is monumental. It shows how reliant they are on him and the massive burden on his shoulders, and that is why he is my Player of the Season.
“It is almost a reluctant choice as I really do believe Kalvin Phillips has been the best player in the league. They are both important to their sides but in different ways.
“But, as is tradition, strikers always get the glory. That is the way it is always been, and the way it always will be!”
Fellow Sky Sports pundits David Prutton and Gary Weaver also praised Phillips, albeit stopping short of picking him as their player of the season, with Brentford’s Ollie Watkins getting the nod instead.
As has sadly proven the case here, defensive players seldom get the recognition they deserve by pundits and commentators when it comes to all-encompassing awards.
While Goodman, Prutton and Weaver offered honourable mentions to Phillips, the eventual picks in the end were all attacking players.
Not like this will matter – Leeds are well placed for promotion back to the Premier League and, for Phillips, that would be better than any individual accolades.