Leeds United: Jesse Marsch on why intensity and power are key to Whites taking fans with them in survival fight

Jesse Marsch says Leeds United have to harness the power of the “intelligent” Elland Road crowd, with fast starts being essential to it.

And just as the American is learning about the supporters, so he says they will grow to understand better how they can best help the players.

Marsch’s first game at his new home ground was a miserable experience, beaten 3-0 by Aston Villa on Thursday. But his second was much more pleasant, if more than a little tense at the end, as they defeated Norwich City 2-1 on Sunday.

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The game was played at a fierce tempo right from the start, and Marsch says that is how his team must play to make the most of home advantage. If they do, the partisan crowd will help them to maintain their intensity.

“(Sunday’s performance was) a big difference from Thursday,” explained Marsch, who plays slightly differently from predecessor Marcelo Bielsa but still prizes the intensity that was the hallmark of the Argentinian’s Leeds team.

“We were more aggressive from the start and brought the crowd into the match more. Different games require different things.

“I learned on Thursday how important positive moments in the match are to bring the crowd in, not to be too passive where they don’t feel they have enough to get behind.

“I have to learn to adapt, to adjust too to help our club and our fans. I can tell how intelligent they are by when they cheer, they’ll get to understand what our tactics are and the right kind of cheer to help the team.”

MAGIC MOMENT: Leeds United's Joe Gelhardt celebrates scoring his team's late winner against Norwich City on Sunday at Elland Road Picture:Tony Johnson

Leeds had lost seven of their eight previous matches with the exception being at Villa Park, where they opened the scoring en route to a 3-3 draw.

The intensity of the atmosphere on Sunday was certainly helped by the nature of the game.

Rodrigo scored after just 15 minutes, although the playmaker had already set the tone with his tackling back by that stage.

From that point Leeds dominated but, as is so often their way, failed to take full advantage.

PASSION: Leeds United's Rodrigo celebrates his first half goal against Norwich City at Elland Road on Sunday. Picture: Tony Johnson

Raphinha volleyed onto the crossbar and the fit-again Patrick Bamford missed two good chances before half-time. Raphinha would hit the bar again with an 82nd-minute free-kick.

Leeds played with a tempo which made mistakes more likely – by themselves but more so by the opposition – and a real aggression too.

In his running battle with Max Aarons, substitute Jack Harrison certainly followed Marsch’s instruction to play more like a “son of a bitch.”

But the Canaries added an air of jeopardy as they began to realise Leeds’s wastefulness offered them an opportunity.

Leeds United head coach, Jesse Marsch Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

They too hit the crossbar, through substitute Jon Rowe, and had a penalty awarded for Luke Ayling’s challenge on Milot Rashica, only for referee Stuart Attwell to overturn his decision after consulting the pitchside monitor.

Norwich equalised through Kenny McLean in stoppage time, only for Joe Gelhardt to come off the bench and score the winner. But as dramatic as the finish was, Marsch felt the start was vital.

“We have given up almost every one of the last seven or eight games,” reflected Marsch, who has been in charge for the last three.

“Games are incredibly difficult and if you’re always playing from behind it’s almost impossible. We need to understand how to handle from behind, pushing from the beginning and taking the lead will help us claim more results.”

Asked about Harrison’s performance, Marsch said: “I thought he was fantastic. He was disappointed not to be in the first XI but he showed the mentality to know what I want him to look like.

“I told him he was likely to be the first sub. He came on and brought us what we needed in a big way.”