Ted Lasso fans rejoice! There is another American manager in the Premier League, and his name is Jesse Marsch. Can he solve Leeds’ problems?
Leeds End Bielsa Era
Marcelo Bielsa was sacked this past weekend after an extremely poor run of form, and Leeds have turned to another high-press-minded manager born in Racine, Wisconsin.
Credit must be given to Bielsa for everything he has done for Leeds; however, his style of play was far too ambitious given his attacking, midfield, and defensive options.
Center backs Diego Llorente and Pascal Struijk let Bielsa down massively, as they were complete liabilities when pressing high. Losing Kalvin Phillips and Patrick Bamford early this season to injury also hurt Leeds this season, and has contributed to a big part of their bleeding.
Another Adopter of the Gegenpress Joins Prem
Now, Jesse Marsch, former RB Leipzig manager, has the opportunity to stabilize the ship a bit and perhaps take a humble step back in terms of playstyle.
While he still will implement a high pressing system, rather than an all-out ninety-minute press to win possession, Marsch’s teams press to score goals.
This means that it will be more difficult to break Leeds’ defense now because they will only look to press when the opportunity presents itself. They will focus on being more compact to alleviate pressures on keeper Illan Meslier.
The American joins Thomas Tuchel, Jürgen Klopp, Ralf Rangnick, and Ralph Hasenhuttl as managers that use this style of play in the Premier League. His spin on the system comes down to creating a great team environment both in terms of closeness and communication.
Marsch often quotes an American, Harvey Firestone, who said that “success is the Sum of the details” which is advice that Leeds will need for the rest of the season.
Little by little, if they come together and play like their lives depend on it, they can survive.
Formation and Personnel Changes
Marsch will likely elect to play a 4-2-2-2 given Leeds’ personnel, different to Bielsa’s previous 4-1-4-1.
The significant difference between these two formations is the double pivot in the former. Marsch will play two holding midfielders in his Leeds’ side, one spot of which will be occupied by Kalvin Phillips upon his return from injury.
Phillips will be vital in calming things down in Leeds’ midfield and will be a favorite of the American manager.
Patrick Bamford could form a great partnership with Rodrigo up front, who was disappointing under Bielsa, and then Marsch has options to support the two in behind.
Raphinha’s spot in the team is safe, as he has been Leeds’ clear-cut best player for a while now. He is a big part of the reason that they aren’t in the relegation zone right now, and will need to be ready to score big goals for Marsch.
Will Leeds Stay Up?
I currently can’t see Norwich and Watford finishing anywhere other than 20th and 19th, so that leaves just one more relegation spot.
Everton and Newcastle will be able to survive, so avoiding 18th place will be a competition between Brentford, Burnley, and Leeds.
Burnley is currently in an inspired form, only losing one Premier League game since January 2nd. The loss in that stretch was only a 1-0 loss to Liverpool. Dyche’s men always seem to get the job done and I believe that they will be able to do so again this year.
Between Leeds and Brentford, the latter has a more difficult schedule, however, they sit one place above the former in the Premier League currently.
I believe that Marsch’s appointment will give Leeds a much-needed boost for the final third of the Premier League season, and hopefully inspire the players. As we saw last year, Leeds is more than capable of defeating the best teams in the Premier League, and it will be very interesting to see what Marsch can do upon Kalvin Phillips’ return.
As an American Premier League fan, I would love to see Marsch succeed for Leeds, and I believe he will do exactly that.
The task at hand will be very difficult, but if he is able to survive relegation this season, Leeds could refocus during the offseason and come back as strong as we saw them last season. Their squad is good enough for the Premier League, and the next few months will confirm that.