Fabinho believes Nat Phillips is becoming a leader at Liverpool. The Reds need one, too.
No one was too sure where Fabinho would play against Manchester United. Ozan Kabak was out, after all, and the Brazilian may have to cover at centre-back.
That would have been a shame, however, as Liverpool are undoubtedly better with Fabinho in midfield. He shields the defence wonderfully well and allows his fellow midfielders to focus on their own roles.
But could Liverpool really go to Old Trafford without him in defence? If Fabinho wasn’t there, Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams would have to partner one another. There’s not a lot of experience there, given neither was playing top-flight football before this season.
Without that experience, Liverpool would be asking a lot of their defenders. They’d need to defend as a unit against Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba. That isn’t exactly easy.
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But according to Fabinho, it all worked thanks to Phillips stepping up when Liverpool needed it.
Fabinho on Phillips
“Rhys and Nat played a really good game,” he told Liverpoolfc.com. “I always say the communication between us is really important, and the communication with Rhys and Nat worked really well.
“Especially with Nat because he starts to show his leadership as well and we need someone at the back who can talk to the other players to be in the right position or to protect in my case.
“The communication between us works really good, so we are really happy with the game we played.”
Liverpool have sorely lacked that leadership this season. It’s usually Virgil van Dijk’s job, of course, and if he’s not there, Joel Matip. Joe Gomez can do it, too. None are there, though.
The Reds can’t even fall back on Jordan Henderson to lead from midfield. Injuries tore all of that away from them.
So to see Phillips get recognition as a leader is wonderful. The 24-year-old has stepped up this season to prove he can deliver Premier League performances, while also leading a defence.
Leading a centre-back pairing alongside 20-year-old Williams at Old Trafford, up against Cavani. That’s quite incredible. Phillips continues to impress and long may it continue.