Football Features

“We bend but we don’t break” – Jesse Marsch hails valuable point for “unique” Leeds project

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:35, 25 April 2022

Jesse Marsch has admitted he wasn’t happy with the performance of his Leeds United side despite earning a “valuable” point against Crystal Palace on Monday night.

Leeds went into the game four points clear of Everton knowing they had the chance to capitalise on the Toffees’ defeat against Liverpool on Sunday to boost their own hopes of survival.

There will have been a bit of added pressure though as Burnley continued their revival post-Sean Dyche, but that didn’t show as Leeds pulled off a professional performance against a Palace side whose last game at Selhurst Park saw them beat Arsenal 3-0.

It wasn’t a game to remember, with both sides lacking quality in attack as their combined 26 shots brought just nine on target; Palace had 17 shots with seven on target to Leeds’ nine and two.

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As the game went on, Palace had the upper hand with Wilfried Zaha in particular enjoying his night on the left flank despite a number of tough tackles form the Leeds defenders, but they could not get a second consecutive home win.

Instead, Leeds extended their unbeaten Premier League streak to five matches, their best run in the top flight for a year since going six games without defeat between March and April 2021. And Marsch hailed the important point for Leeds after what was a disappointing performance.

“We as a group were a little bit disappointed overall with our performance but I think we have to look at the positives and say it’s two clean sheets in a row, it’s a big point that gets us closer to our ultimate goal,” he told Sky Sports.

“Getting Kalvin (Phillips) 90 minutes, having a team that’s more stable and doesn’t give away big chances. It was a night where we bend but we don’t break.

“So we still have a lot of work to do in order to get better and better. The guys are disappointed but in the end we know the point was valuable.”

Premier League relegation odds

Find the latest Premier League relegation odds for the 2022/2023 season here:

Club Chance Paddy Power Sky Bet
Bournemouth 54.22% 4/9 1/2
Nottingham Forest 63.43% 4/6 4/7
Leicester 21.54% 17/10 15/8
Southampton 18.94% 2/1 5/2
Everton 37.32% 16/5 3/1
Leeds 10.34% 7/2 4/1
Fulham 15.21% 9/2 11/2
Probability % provided by Opta StatsPerform
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Marsch’s appointment as Leeds manager in February came with a lot of doubts after the American struggled at RB Leipzig in the first half of the season, winning just seven of his 20 matches in charge of the German club. There were also unfair comparisons being made between Marsch and Ted Lasso, the fictional American manager who takes charge of an English club.

But, after a tough opening two matches losing to Leicester and Aston Villa, Marsch appears to have got Leeds starting to play in his way, cutting out some of the errors that had brought the end of Marcelo Bielsa’s spell in charge at Elland Road. In fact, Marsch has picked up seven more points in his first seven Premier League games in charge than Bielsa managed in his final seven (11 to four).

They aren’t perfect, and neither is Marsch’s system (but), but Leeds appear to be on the up.

“There’s still moments where they get caught in some of the man marking, or when one guy steps out that the others feel like they have to cover behind them instead of attacking forward specifically against the ball,” Marsch added.

“And then some of the positioning and ideas that when we’re in build up phases and when we’re in the last third to just be a little bit cleaner with the connections and the timing of plays. But this takes time.

“This takes time, and it’s Kalvin’s first 90 minutes on the pitch and there’s a couple of times when I’m talking to him about what his positioning is at different moments. But you can see still that he’s able to provide a lot of balance to our team, that he’s able to win a lot of duels, that he’s still able to have solutions with the ball at the right moments.

“It’s such a unique project to take over a team, try to change the playing philosophy and now survive and thrive a relegation battle. It’s a big challenge but the guys give everything and we’re trying everything we can every day to get the most out of what we’re going.”

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