Jesse Marsch has been confirmed as the new head coach of Leeds United, after the struggling Premier League club moved swiftly to replace Marcelo Bielsa.
Indeed Bielsa, sacked on Sunday, had barely had time to bid his players a final farewell at the training ground on Monday morning before his 48-year-old successor became only the second American to manage a Premier League team.
Speaking about the appointment, the Leeds director of football, Victor Orta, said: “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 during his time at Red Bull Salzburg 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.”
Leeds fans must trust the former RB Leipzig, Red Bull Salzburg and New York Red Bulls coach is somewhat more successful than his compatriot, Bob Bradley, proved at Swansea a few years ago but no one is underestimating the task confronting Marsch.
A manager who shone at Salzburg left Leipzig in December by “mutual consent” following an indifferent five months in charge of the Bundesliga club and must now somehow correct an appalling run of form which has seen Bielsa’s side collect one point from their last six games and concede 20 goals in the past five matches alone.
Like Bielsa an advocate of an aggressive high pressing game – albeit using a slightly more moderate model than his Argentinian predecessor – Marsch is much admired in the Elland Road boardroom after striking up a rapport with Victor Orta, Leeds director of football, early in 2020.
His first priority in a run of matches starting with Saturday’s trip to Leicester ahead of two vital home games against Aston Villa and Norwich will be to tighten a defence which has conceded 60 top-flight goals this season, more than any other team in the division. Bielsa’s last two games saw Leeds sink 6-0 at Liverpool before losing 4-0 at home to Tottenham.
In mitigation Leeds have been without three key players comprising the team’s spine for much of this season and Marsch can only hope that last season’s leading scorer Patrick Bamford, the England central midfielder Kalvin Phillips and the centre-back and captain, Liam Cooper, return to action on schedule this spring.
Chief Executive Angus Kinnear added: “We are really pleased to have quickly secured the services of our first-choice head coach. Whilst the short-term objective for Jesse is obvious, we believe he has the courage and ambition to build on the strong foundations we have created over the last four years and elevate the performance of the club over the long-term. He had a great deal of success with New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Salzburg and has demonstrated during our many meetings that he is a great fit with the footballing culture of Leeds United.
“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.”