Leeds United sacked Jesse Marsch this week with the club sat firmly in a relegation scrap in 16th position. It was less than a year after the American’s arrival at Elland Road. Back then, Leeds was in a similar position. However, Marsch helped propel Leeds to survival last season in the Premier League.
However, he failed to implement enough change to provide Leeds more comfort in the English top flight. The issue was Leeds United bleeding goals. After 20 games under Marsch, Leeds conceded 34 goals. Only Bournemouth, Southampton, Nottingham Forest and Leicester City have more goals against.
Much of Marsch’s strategy relies on pressing, forcing players under pressure and hitting the opponents quick. That tactic made for exciting games, sure. Leeds was in a draw or one-goal game in six of the last seven Premier League games under Jesse Marsch. The only problem was that Leeds United was not winning these games. A one-goal loss at Tottenham, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest compounded three draws.
It follows a trend that dates back to his arrival in England. Over his near-year in the Premier League, Marsch coached 32 games. He only won eight of those games, drew nine and lost 15 more. That points per game of just over one is dismal, even in the tightly contested Premier League. Moreover, it would be easy to say Marsch did not have the backing of the Leeds executives. The opposite is true.
Lack of Leeds United improvement under Jesse Marsch
Leeds made a number of key signings this summer and winter in a bid to aid the American manager. Notably, at least for some circles, Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson arrived from RB Leipzig and Salzburg, respectively. Marsch, a previous coach at both of those clubs, persuaded Leeds to spend over $50 million on two Americans 23 and under.
In total, seven players came in under the oversight of Jesse Marsch that individually cost more than $12 million. Interestingly, the most successful one appears to be Wilfried Gnoto, the cheapest of the bunch at just over $5 million.
Georginio Rutter arrived in the winter as the club-record arrival based on transfer fee. As did Weston McKennie on loan from Juventus. Granted, those players had limited time to help Marsch save his job.
However, despite spending heavy in the transfer window, Leeds struggled to make a difference. They showed a glimpse early on, picking up seven points in the opening three games of the campaign.
However, that could add pressure to the side to perform regularly. Jermaine Beckford, a former player who made over 125 appearances with Leeds, says that pressure can mount on young players with high transfer fees.
“When [high transfer fees are] the case, naturally the pressure comes along with that,” Beckford said on Generation xG, available on Peacock‘s Premier League TV channel. “The expectation level for performances not only for results, goals scored and for fans to be excited, that level rises as well. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.”
Not taking the chances
The major counter in favor of Marsch was that Leeds simply did not take its chances. For sure, Marsch has a say over that, and finishing can be improved in training. The crew on Generation xG recounted the Leeds game against Nottingham Forest, Marsch’s last in charge.
In that game, Leeds mustered 70% possession, its highest in a Premier League game this season. It had 10 total shots, with four on target, double Forest’s. According to Football Reference, Leeds had an expected goal ratio of 0.9. In other words, it clearly missed its chances.
As stated, Marsch is somewhat to blame for that, and that is why the club sacked him midseason. That’s a common move for clubs in the relegation scrap. Five of the six clubs 15th and lower have had managerial changes this year. The exception is David Moyes at West Ham.
The next manager at Leeds inherits a similar situation to what Marsch had upon his arrival at Elland Road. With expensive players in the squad, there is no reason for Leeds to go back down to the Championship.
PHOTO: IMAGO / Pro Sports Images
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