A 2-1 win at Brentford, combined with Burnley’s 2-1 defeat at home to Newcastle United ensured it is the Clarets, not the Whites, who will be joining Norwich City and Watford in next season’s Championship.
But they did it in a way that really tested the nerves – leaving their fate in other people’s hands on the final day, taking the lead in West London but allowing the Bees back into it before securing a stoppage-time winner from Jack Harrison against a team down to nine men by a combination of a red card and injury.
“I’ve heard this a lot about Leeds United and the community and we always think we have to do it the hard way,” said Marsch, who replaced the sacked Marcelo Bielsa in February.
“Honestly, part of the job is to change the mentality to say we deserve more.
“We have an incredible club, we have an incredible team and honestly it’s not by accident that we’ve scored four winners or equalisers in injury time (during his 12 games in charge).
“It’s because we’ve had belief and we think we deserve what we’ve got but we had to earn it.
“I’ve heard this is the Leeds way but I’m not buying into that.
“I’m only thinking about the potential of what we can make it into.”
Marsch has always tried to be positive as Leeds manager, and he insisted he never doubted they would stay up.
“I believed we were going to do this,” he said.
“There wasn’t one day I didn’t believe.
“That’s why there wasn’t one day I talked about the Championship.
“This business is about belief and exuding it as a manager.
“The one advantage I had was this group of players. I believed in them.
“Our belief made us stronger not weaker and earned us what we think we deserve.”
There is no doubt, though, that a team which finished ninth 12 months earlier has a lot to do this summer to become the club Marsch and the fans want it to be. His final team selection of the season, with Joe Gelhardt leading the line in a game Patrick Bamford missed after contracting Covid-19, and more unexpectedly fellow 20-year-old forward Sam Greenwood chosen in midfield, pointed to how he might try to achieve it.
“It’s almost been a Band-Aid project (rather) than a project about style of play, identity and developing an academy so there’s so much to do,” said Marsch.
“We’ve really started the process in a good way and we’ve invested in each other and what we have from a player and people perspective.
“But I think we’re just scratching the surface of the potential of what we want to become.
“There’s a lot to do, almost everything, but I’m so thankful to work with the people I work with every day and I knew regardless of the outcome today we had a big future because of the people that are involved – from a player perspective, worker perspective, support staff, everything.”
With the honourable exception of Raphinha, whose penalty opened the scoring yesterday, the senior players Leeds have signed since winning promotion to the top flight in 2020 have not come up to scratch.
But they have also recruited heavily at Under-23 level, and the likes of Gelhardt and Greenwood have shown exciting potential. Marsch laughed off the idea that Greenwood’s selection ahead of Mateusz Klich in midfield was a brave one, but it was.
“It’s too bad that Cry (Summerville) got hurt because he was emerging as a good player,” said Marsch.
“If you want to play active football you have to get the balance of leadership and youth who can run and meet the standards of how we want to play.
“From a leadership perspective we have an incredible core and a great captain (in Liam Cooper) who had total belief. We need to continue to invest in young players with time and money.”
Analysis: Page 3