Jesse Marsh has been named the new Leeds United manager following the departure of Marcelo Bielsa on Sunday.
The Argentine was sacked after a 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, leaving Leeds in 16th place in the Premier League table and two points clear of relegation.
March, who previously coached the New York Red Bulls and RB Salzburg, will be tasked with fixing the club’s recent form, which failed to win in six league games and scored just one point.
The 48-year-old American began the season as RB Leipzig manager, replacing Bayern-linked Julian Nagelsmann.
However, Marsh and the club went their separate ways in early December, and his departure was aided by a 6–3 victory over Manchester City in the first leg of the Champions League.
Marsh’s first game in charge will be Saturday’s trip to Leicester in the Premier League; start at 12:30
Jesse Marsh’s first six Leeds games
|Saturday 5 March||Leicester (a)||Premier League|
|Thursday 10 March||Villa Aston (h)||Premier League|
|Sunday 13 March||Norwich (h)||Premier League|
|Friday 18 March||Wolves (a)||Premier League|
|Saturday 2 April||Southampton||Premier League|
|Saturday 9 April||Watford (a)||Premier League|
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What went wrong for Bielsa?
Sky Sports Adam Smith:
Leeds were just three points behind the top half of the Premier League table after a 2-2 draw against Brentford on 5 December. Patrick Bamford came on as a substitute in that game and scored a spectacular goal in the 95th minute – his only cameo this season since he suffered the first of two serious injuries in mid-September.
To complicate matters, the remaining backbone of the team was also sidelined after Calvin Phillips and club captain Liam Cooper. These injuries were preceded by a series of heated meetings with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal over the course of seven days, all of which ended in defeat.
Despite a brief period of good form in the new year, which led to draws against Aston Villa and victories over Burnley and West Ham, five defeats in six games since have prompted the board to end Bielsa’s four-year reign.
The Argentine refused to blame his missing trio after a humiliating 6-0 defeat to Liverpool, but statistics show that their absence was sorely missed.
Leeds are now only two points away from the drop zone, with the two teams below them, Everton and Burnley, with two games in hand.
So what exactly went wrong for Bielsa and were the injuries the cause?
Phillips and Cooper have already missed more than half of the season, while Leeds have scored almost three times as many goals without the pair in their squad, their winning percentage has been halved, as has their average points per game. Meanwhile, the lack of a direct replacement for Bamford was underlined by the many missed chances against Tottenham.
As shown in the chart below, Leeds have been much less stressed after serious injuries. While the initial spike in goals conceded can be understandable based on opposition, the latest spike has multiple justifications and shows Leeds are now averaging four goals per game based on a rolling average of five matches.
What’s more, Leeds’ famous high pressing seems to have abated significantly since Philips was suspended, making it much easier for opponents to play through them as they move from fullback to midfield.
High pressing was one aspect of the fear factor for the opposition facing Leeds, which included intensity and fanatical style fueled by league-leading sprints and distances.
While the sprint remained, the overall running distance was drastically reduced, with Leeds outrunning their rivals in 13 of 15 games before both Phillips and Cooper were injured, but have since achieved this feat in only four of 11 games.
What’s more, the midfield positions suggest that Leeds’ midfielders have sunk deeper to cover the area that Phillips has been patrolling on his own, while the lone striker has pushed even further down the pitch, creating more space for rivals in midfield.
Bielsa could easily have used his missing line as a mitigating factor during this tumultuous run of results, and few would dispute that. However, his mantra of remaining enthusiastic with depleted resources against superior teams was widely contested and ultimately costly.