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Marsching on Together, as Jesse is unveiled as Leeds United’s new head coach
Monday, 28th Feb 2022 21:31 by Tim Whelan

The news we had been expecting since Saturday evening finally came late this afternoon, when the club formally announced the appointment of Jesse Marsch. He will now get straight to work to turn around the team’s fortunes in the last twelve games, starting with Saturday’s trip to Leicester City.

Somehow the board of directors felt able to ignore the advice of Richard Keys and Andy Gray, who told beIN Sports that we should appoint Sam Allardyce. No really, they did. Instead, the powers that be have gone for a younger man who they believe is well placed to continue the work that Marcello Bielsa started, with just one or two important tweaks.

But unlike his predecessor he believes in signing contracts of more than one year’s duration, and he now has a deal that will take him to June 2025, pending international clearance. And it’s understood that it was the work permit issue that delayed the official announcement at Elland Road, when we expected confirmation of his appointment first thing this morning.

Victor Orta said on the club’s official website “We are delighted to welcome Jesse to the club and excited for him to lead us into this new chapter. Jesse is someone we identified a number of years ago and we believe his philosophy and style of football aligns with that of the club and will suit the players very well. We have a long-term plan and firmly believe he can take Leeds United to the next level and are excited for what the future holds.”

And Angus Kinnear chipped in “We are really pleased to have quickly secured the services of our first-choice head coach. We believe he has the courage and ambition to build on the strong foundations we have created over the last four years he is a great fit with the footballing culture of Leeds United.”

Though he felt the need to address the anger that many fans have expressed since the departure of Bielsa. “At this challenging time, it is important that the club remains united from top to bottom. The fans have been amazing throughout Andrea’s tenure and we have no doubt they will unite behind Jesse and ensure the team quickly returns to winning with style.”

So who is this Jesse Marsch? His name and his coaching career might might make you think that he’s German or Austrian, but in fact he hails from the USA. Though presumably of German descent. He is now 48 years old, and his playing career took in D.C. United, Chicago Fire, and Chivas USA, winning three league titles and four U.S. Open Cup titles. He also played two internationals for the USA.

That came to an end in 2010 and he became an assistant to national coach Bob Bradley, as the USA reached the last 16 of the World Cup. He then had spells at Montreal Impact, the Princeton Tigers and New York Red Bulls. In his first year with the Bulls they won the Supporters' Shield and he was named MLS Coach of the Year. He also holds the record for most wins by a coach in North American franchise history.

In 2018, Marsch moved to Europe but stayed with Red Bull family of clubs, becoming assistant coach at RB Leipzig under a certain Ralf Rangnick. They finished third in the league and were runners up in the German Cup. and competed in the UEFA Europa League. The following season he moved Red Bull Salzburg as head coach, where he won the league and cup double for two consecutive seasons.

That prompted Red Bull to move him back to Leipzig for the start of the current season, this time as the number one. But it all ended in tears at the start of December when he left ‘by mutual consent’ after three consecutive defeats. That seems a rather harsh Cellino style knee jerk sacking, when his overall record was a quite reasonable eight wins and nine defeats in his 21 games.

Some Leeds fans are a little underwhelmed that he is the choice as Bielsa’s successor rather than a more famous name, but he did have a good record as a coach before his second spell at Leipzig. And with the ongoing dispute between Leeds and RBL over Jean-Kévin Augustin, it would be great if we could put one over on them and show they made the wrong decision when they sacked him.

And Marsch could be a good choice to continue the project Bielsa started, as he also believes in an intense pressing style, but with zonal defending, so perhaps he will bring us the best of both worlds. A point he was keen to emphasise when he gave an interview to Sky Sports at Elland Road this afternoon.

"I think I have a lot of similarities to Marcelo in terms of the aggressiveness, the intensity and the run performances. I'm not man-to-man, I'm more zonal and ball-orientated and with the ball I have a few other tactical ideas, but I think transforming the group because of the way they act, behave and think on the field won't be a huge 180 degree transfer. It will only require little adjustments.”

He was asked whether he was facing 12 cup finals to keep Leeds in the Premier League, but said “I see it as 12 games is enough time. We have to stay calm, there's no panic. I know there's been stress because of the way the last few games have gone, but I think for us it's really important that we focus on every moment, every game and every day and that we remove the stress and focus on the things we can control.”

Hopefully he will achieve that, and then go forward to build on the legacy of Marcello Bielsa. "The short term is about keeping the club in the Premier League but in the longer term it's about continuing to grow and to be the club the fans feel it deserves to be which is one of the elite clubs in England."

"With a club of this size and these fans, I feel we have big possibilities and it's my job to maximise the potential of those possibilities every day. I'm not here to be Marcelo Bielsa. I'm here to continue the process and take the next steps for the club. As proud as the fans are proud of their connection with Marcelo, it's my job to ensure they can continue to be proud of what we are."

There are many of us who would have preferred the club to go for a bigger name with more Premier League experience, but everyone will be happy if the new man can get the results we need to keep us out of the bottom three at the end of the season. As Angus Kinnear says, it’s time to forget the squabbles on social media about whether or not Bielsa should have left, and Unite behind Jesse Marsch and the team.


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