Jesse Marsch seeing natural progression in his ‘intelligent’ Leeds United

Jesse Marsch says Leeds United are progressing faster than he hoped – good news for Whites supporters but less so for match officials.

Marsch started life as Marcelo Bielsa’s successor with consecutive defeats but his Whites are now unbeaten in three Premier League games. Although they will look back at their 1-1 draw with Southampton and think they could have had a third straight win, Marsch acknowledged a draw was fair.

It widened the gap to the relegation zone to eight points and they play the team in 18th, Watford, at Vicarage Road, on Saturday. The Hornets have a game in hand on Leeds, Burnley three, but it is a decent position.

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More than points, though, Marsch is measuring progress by performances, and he is pleased how quickly his players have adapted to a more direct style of play.

Leeds United's Raphinha takes on Southampton's Valentino Livramento. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“Saturday was our best counter-pressing game by far, we were good in pressing moments,” he said after watching them against a Southampton side who have been operating on similar principles for three-and-a-half years.

“With the ball in build-up phases against a pressing team, we found solutions and are finding out what our rotations (of positions) look like.

“Our positional discipline on the pitch – including set-pieces – is getting better and better.

“It’s a natural progression but faster than I hoped, because of the commitment and intelligence of the group. That’s why I could keep my mouth shut and shout at referees more! I don’t look at it as a point gained or two points dropped, I look at the further development of the team. It was a good performance and a fair result. Even though I felt we deserved the win, I think it was fair.

Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

“I’m pleased that the group looked clear and I was calmer on the sidelines because they had it under control, they are understanding more and more what we want the game to be.”

Marsch revealed Joe Gelhardt, who impressed again, was only on the bench because a Covid-19 false positive test had limited his training, just as a genuine one did with Pascal Struijk.

Analysis: Page 2