On the 27th of February 2022, Marcelo Bielsa was sacked from his role as manager at Leeds united, due to the poor form the club had been in. Their last win under Bielsa management was when they beat West Ham away winning 3-2 at the London Stadium. Ever since then, they drew one game against Aston Villa and lost five out of the six games to, Newcastle, Everton, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham. Bielsa was sacked the day after the Tottenham game, losing 4-0 away at Tottenham Hotspurs stadium.
Was Bielsa Sacking Valid?
Bielsa was appointed as the Leeds manager in June 2018, setting out to change the form of Leeds heading into the 2018/19 season. Leeds finished 13th ,the year before, in the table with 20 losses overall being way off target in terms of playoff and promotion. The next year, the team finished 3rd in the table with 83 points however, the team lost out in the play- offs to Aston Villa. The year after however the Leeds side took control, with team being promoted in the 2019/20 season and being the championship winners, ten points clear of West Bromwich Albion, after the loss to Huddersfield Town. Leeds had been in the top 2 for most of the season and never got lower than 5th in the table. With the team not been in the Premier League for 16 years, Leeds came into the League with high hopes doing well in the table with the team having no fear into a league where the bar has been considerably raised compared to championship football. Leeds first season back was the best a promoted team have been since Ipswich in 2001, with the club producing an ninth place finish with 59 points. Bielsa has certainly done a lot for Leeds with his style of play, very different and unique to the usual teams that ‘sit back’, turning the team from 13th in the championship to 9th in the Premier League.
This season however Leeds have had a poor run of results since the start of the season, with only six wins this season. The team struggled a lot with defensive duties as team, and having several players injured in the process like Patrick Bamford and Kalvin-Phillips not in the team. Bielsa legacy for the team is big and important for the success of Leeds from where they were as club before to now, but with the form that Leeds had, the club made the call to switch. It wasn’t that Bielsa style of Football wasn’t working, it was more the fact that teams clearly had more money and better foundations, with teams such as Newcastle and Aston Villa, capitalising on the January Transfer Window. It may have seemed inevitable for the club to sack, however his form Leeds this season shouldn’t discredit what a great job Bielsa has done for the club for the past four years.
Why Jesse Marsch then?
Jesse Marsch signed for Leeds United from the 28th of February 2022, with big expectations coming from the club, with their main aim to avoid relegation from the likes of Everton, Burnley, Watford and Norwich. Jesse Marsch however has good pedigree in football and sets a new refreshing foundation for the team looking forward. In the Austrian Bundesliga, Marsch managed Red Bull Salzburg and took them to the top winning the league with 17 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss, an impressive stat for a 22-game season. He got 64 wins at Salzburg with 13 draws and 17 losses, making his win rate 68%. His success led him to a small stint at RB Leipzig from July 2021 to December 2021, where he did 21 games and took eight wins, four draws and nine losses. The guy has got talent to say he’s an American Manager and has showed that with his tactics and Passion
Here’s further proof that with his half time talk with RB Salzburg team against Liverpool in the Champions League:
What to Make of Marsch first three games for Leeds
The first game was against Leicester who again had a poor run of form with getting their first win at the start of March. Leeds put in a far fight towards Leicester with the team producing 19 shots through out the whole game, however only four of them shots were on target. The team made some great runs with Dan James, Harrison, Rodrigo and Raphinha showing very good attack resilient and promise. for Leeds Possession was 49% and while the still loss from a goal from Harvey Barnes, the team looked much better defensively and showed they can still win games. They just struggled to get the finish, especially with how impressive Schmeichel was.
Their next opponents were Aston Villa who has good form as of late with very good attacking options such as their new signing Coutinho, who scored their first goal in the first half. In the second half two goals were conceded as Matty Cash and Calum Chambers scored with eight minutes between them, with a goal from a free play for Cash in the bottom right corner and Chambers scored from a free kick. Leeds seemed to be exposed defensively as they struggled on the pitch to keep the back four in line and not give too much space away. Villa had 15 shots with nine on target with a much more fluid system to Leeds that just had more possession just Villa, but only having four shots with one on target. This was Marsch second defeat.
Their latest game was against Norwich which were last in the table with only four wins. But Marsch got his first victory of the season with a 2-1 victory at home and secured three points moving them four points clear of Everton in the table. The team seems much better defensively but also more accurate with their attacks like their first goal for Rodrigo in the bottom left corner. Their second goal came from a long kick from Meslier and great head pass from Gelhardt to Raphinha lead to a run. Krul slipped and gave an open goal with Raphinha Passing back to Gelhardt, getting the ball in the back of the net. In terms of stats, the game was even between both sides with Leeds having 13 shots to Norwich 12, but Leeds had more shots on target (7 to Norwich’s 4). They also maintained more possession as well with 53%.
For leeds It seems that they still struggle to be more clinical in attack and teams like Villa that play with a different style generally seem to expose the team, but they seem to be better defensively and seem to make the most of their chances when the team need it. The Leciester and Norwich games were good examples of their attacking ability and create chances in different ways compared to other teams. Marsch in that sense has created a good defensive system for them at the moment, but still will keep in mind the run of games they’ve got coming up. The back four seem to have a clear understanding however may struggling on the counter at times
Leeds Next game will be against Wolves tomorrow at 8PM.