Jesse Marsch has been appointed as Leeds United’s new manager following Marcelo Bielsa’s departure on Sunday.
The Argentine was sacked after a 4-0 defeat to Tottenham and Leeds is 16th in the Premier League table and two points behind from relegation places.
Marsch, who previously coached the New York Red Bulls and RB Salzburg, will be tasked with fixing the club’s last form after failing to win six league games and scoring just one point.
The 48-year-old American started the season as RB Leipzig coach, replacing Bayern-linked Julian Nagelsmann.
However, Marsch and the club parted ways in early December, contributing to their departure by defeating Manchester City 6-3 in the Champions League opening game.
Marsch’s first game in charge will be Saturday’s Premier League trip to Leicester; It starts at 12:30.
Jesse Marsch’s first six games in Leeds
|Saturday, March 5||Leicester (one)||premier league|
|Thursday, March 10||Villa Aston (h)||premier league|
|Sunday, March 13||Norwich (s)||premier league|
|Friday, March 18||wolves (a)||premier league|
|Saturday, April 2||Southampton||premier league|
|Saturday, April 9||Watford (one)||premier league|
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What went wrong for Bielsa?
Sky Sports Adam Smith:
Leeds were just three points ahead of the top half of the Premier League table after their 2-2 draw with Brentford on 5 December. Patrick Bamford came on as a substitute in that game and scored a fantastic equalizer in the 95th minute – his only cameo this season since suffering the first of his two major injuries in mid-September.
The backbone of the team since Kalvin Phillips and club captain Liam Cooper also complicates things further. These injuries preceded a series of heated encounters against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal in seven days, all of which ended in defeat.
Despite a short form spell that drew with Aston Villa and brought a win against Burnley and West Ham, five defeats in six games since then have resulted in the board ending his four-year reign from Bielsa.
The Argentine denied blaming the losing trio after their humiliating 6-0 defeat at Liverpool, but statistics provide ample evidence that their absence was sorely missed.
With Leeds now just two points away from the relegation zone, the two teams below them – Everton and Burnley – have two games on their hands.
So what exactly went wrong for Bielsa and were injuries a factor?
Phillips and Cooper have missed more than half of the season so far, with Leeds scoring almost three times as many goals without a duo on the team, while their win rate and average points per game have been cut in half. Meanwhile, the lack of a direct substitute for Bamford has been highlighted by a series of missed opportunities against Tottenham.
As the graphic below shows, Leeds has become a lot less nervous after major injuries. While the initial rise in goals conceded is understandable to the opposition, the recent rise has few excuses, revealing that Leeds are currently posting an average of four goals per game based on an average of five rounds.
Moreover, Leeds’ notorious high-press appears to have weakened considerably since Phillips stepped off the pitch, with opponents finding it much easier to play them when they’ve built up from the back and midfield.
The high press had been a face of the fear factor, which included intensity and fiery style for the opponents facing Leeds – fueled by league-leading numbers for sprints and distance covered.
As the sprint continued, overall running distances dropped: Leeds, Phillips, and Cooper beat their opponents in 13 of 15 games before being injured – but have only achieved this feat in four of 11 games since.
What’s more, the midfield positions show Leeds midfielders dig deeper to cover an area Phillips is patrolling on his own, and the single striker moves further on the field, increasing the mid-park area for the opponents.
Bielsa could easily have used his missing streak as a mitigating factor during this fiery series of results, and few would dispute that. However, the rationale for pursuing an enthusiastic approach to superior teams with depleted resources was widely debated and ultimately costly.