Jamie Redknapp believes Kalvin Phillips is 'miles off' what is needed of him at Manchester City following the midfielder's passive display against Southampton.
Phillips made his first start for City in Wednesday night's 2-0 Carabao Cup defeat at St. Mary's and was one of several players at fault in the build-up for Sekou Mara's opening goal. The usually tenacious midfielder twice lost possession before Sergio Gomez followed suit, with French forward Mara nipping in front of a static Kyle Walker to fire home.
Moussa Djenepo doubled the home side's lead five minutes later, lifting the ball over Stefan Ortega after driving through a midfield that lacked the necessary bite. Phillips lasted just over an hour before being hooked for the dependable Rodri, and Redknapp insisted after the final whistle that the former Leeds United man has temporarily lost his trademark edge.
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“I think there are a number of factors right now with Kalvin Phillips," Redknapp told Sky Sports. "There’s a lot of rustiness because before the World Cup he wasn’t fit, he’d been injured, he was picked by Gareth Southgate, and when you’re in the squad and not playing it’s very hard to keep up that match fitness.
“You can see he’s come back, he’s took a little bit of criticism from his manager, it’s been tough for him. One of the things I really admired about Kalvin Phillips at Leeds was he was tenacious, he’d get after people, there was a bit of spite, a bit of aggression about him.
“Now he’s gone to Man City I think he thinks, ‘okay, I’m just going to play easy here, keep it simple, be a bit passive in my movements’. That for me is not what Kalvin Phillips is about.
“When he was at Leeds he was the talisman, he was the one who won every tackle. [Against Southampton] he was brushed aside, there was no real strength about his play and that epitomised his performance. I feel he’s almost got to go back to basics, to the midfield player that he was at Leeds, be a little bit nastier and get after people.
“That’s what Pep Guardiola will want. At the moment he’s miles off it.”
For Wednesday's cup clash the hope was to provide Phillips with the platform to kickstart his career at City, following a six-month rough patch. The 27-year-old has not been helped by a litany of injury problems, culminating in surgery on a dislocated shoulder back in September.
Fit just in time to travel to Qatar for the World Cup, the midfielder managed just two appearances off the bench and returned to Manchester above Pep Guardiola's weight demands - with the City boss rather bluntly labelling him 'overweight'.
After the result, Guardiola defended Phillips by admitting the fault of the defeat lies with all players. He said: "He needs time, a lot of time injured. It's not about Kalvin or this player or the other one, when you have nights like today it's the responsibility for everyone. First the manager of course, but everyone."
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