“Tobody in that position, when things don’t go well, is always blamed,” says Leeds manager Jesse Marsch. The club have two games to salvage their Premier League status, not because Marsch have failed since taking charge in February, but because of a series of errors that have left them in a perilous position.
Marsch finds his team in 18th place ahead of Brighton’s visit on Sunday for a game Leeds will see as their best chance for maximum points. Unfortunately for Leeds, Brighton have lost once – a 3-0 loss to Manchester City – in their last seven games. They’ve beaten Arsenal and Tottenham in that span, so they won’t shy away from a trip to Yorkshire.
If you talk to those who know Marsch best, they talk about a very smart man, someone who can change the narrative and outsmart opposition managers. Since his arrival 10 games ago, the focus has been on his words rather than his actions.
Marsch constantly analyzes his own performance and that of his team to find improvements. Leeds have been down to 10 men in the first half of their last two games, leaving Marsch wondering if he is overstimulating his players.
“The key for me is understanding what I’ve learned in this business, what this particular team in this situation and these particular players need and how can I best provide them with that so they can be everything. which I believe they may be. ,” he says. “That’s what the project is from a mentality perspective. Then you have to apply football tactics and style of play so that they understand what their roles are on the pitch.
Marsch was crippled by those at his disposal. Leeds failed to sign in January. When battling relegation, improving a struggling team seems a prerequisite, especially as Marcelo Bielsa was sacked less than a month after the window closed.
“All I knew when I walked into this situation was that I was going to walk into the fire,” Marsch says. “All I tried to do was learn as quickly as possible how to help the group at that time to convey a positive way to give us the best chance in those last two games to have a chance.”
Bielsa had the chance to sign players in January but was not interested in those on offer, instead wanting to stay with the small squad he knew. Bielsa is a man of conviction and always thought there was enough quality to get them out of danger. Bielsa wasn’t wrong; there is a standard Premier League side at Leeds but not one capable of dealing with the rigors of it, which can also be said of relegation rivals Burnley, who are level on points with a game less but with a much higher goal difference.
Patrick Bamford has made nine Premier League appearances all season, Stuart Dallas has been out with a broken leg, Liam Cooper and Kalvin Phillips have had long spells on the sidelines. The lack of depth ensured the absence of the team’s backbone caused major problems. The absence of key players from back to front may explain Leeds’ defensive problem which can be summed up in statistics: 77 goals conceded in 36 games.
The players have seemed tired lately; it’s hard to reinvigorate a team that spent three-and-a-half years working under Bielsa’s intense methods. The list of injuries might just be a coincidence, but when pushed to your physical max for so long, it can take its toll on the body.
The lack of options available to Marsch was laid bare against Chelsea on Wednesday. Lewis Bate made his Premier League debut in midfield, while their biggest attacking threat, Raphinha, played as a right-back. Of the six unused substitutes, including 16-year-old Archie Gray, only Jamie Shackleton and Charlie Cresswell had made a Championship start.
They will be without Luke Ayling and Dan James on Sunday after their red cards. Marsch hopes the home crowd will inspire his team, but thinks the reckless challenges can partly be blamed on the players’ desire to show they care. “It’s because they want to do everything they can for the fans,” he says.
Marsch was frustrated with coverage of his use of quotes from Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi, among others, to inspire his players. He sees it as part of a bigger picture, but Leeds’ long-term vision can go no further than the final day away game at Brentford. The club’s owners’ group spoke to the players on Thursday in their own bid to motivate them.
It appears to be a straight shootout between Leeds and Burnley for the final relegation spot. If Marsch feels the need to provide more inspirational quotes to his players, then he should look no further than Leeds’ greatest manager, Don Revie, to remind them: “You have no right to be second. “.