Leeds United and Jesse Marsch now start process of evolution not revolution at Elland Road

Whether Jesse Marsch enjoys Salzburg-style success at Leeds United or things all go a bit Leipzig remains to be seen, but at least the ‘powers that be’ at Elland Road are thinking along the right lines.

Changing your manager – or in Leeds’s case, coach – is like signing a player in that it is always a gamble. Even title-winning managers have failed at Elland Road before. Bringing in someone with no experience of the league and not even the luxury of a pre-season adds to the risk – just ask Hull City, where Shota Arveladze has mercifully just ended a run of six winless matches after starting with a honeymoon-inspired victory.

But strip away the sentiment – and Marcelo Bielsa’s sacking has been a welcome reminder that sentiment remains important in football – and a change was necessary with the Whites’ momentum only heading in one direction.

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After all he had done for the club, Bielsa had earnt the right to lead that change but he was unequivocal – he was not prepared to alter his way of thinking. His great strength had become his great weakness.

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch - pictured at Elland Road talking to staff on the day he was appointed to succeed Marcelo Bielsa Picture supplied by Leeds United.

The hope is that by abandoning Bielsa’s man-for-man marking system but keeping the rest, Marsch can make Leeds tighter defensively but it is not something he has a reputation for. This is certainly no American George Graham.

Those who stubbornly said they would rather go down with Bielsa at the helm than stay up without him ignore what a financial catastrophe relegation from the Premier League is for clubs not submissively set up to yo-yo between divisions. Leeds’s Italian chairman and his San Francisco investors are not in this to throw all their money away.

Hopefully Leeds players do not show the same stubbornness, refusing to listen to ideas just because they are delivered in an American accent, rather than the broken English of the genius so many owe their careers to, fixated on Marsch’s failings at Leipzig, not his success to get there.

The frustration is the beautiful work of art Bielsa created needed only a slight tweak, not a complete reworking. That thinking led to Marsch.

STUBBORN: Marcelo Bielsa, pictured after Leeds United's 4-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at Elland Road on Saturday. Less than 24 hours later, he was sacked. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The fundamentals were there, as was a small squad built to play a certain way. Marsch looks well-equipped to use the tools at his disposal.

“One of the things I love about this team right now is their commitment no matter how difficult the games have been to play to the end, to fight for each other, to never stop, to give everything they have to each other at every moment,” he said in his first interview.

“This mentality to play for the fans, to fight for the fans, to fight for each other, this is what I love as a football manager. That’s what I identify with, a team that has passion, that has balls.”

Even the signing Leeds were unable to make in January, Brenden Aaronson, a fellow American, played briefly under Marsch at Salzburg.

Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch - pictured with Angus Kinnear Andrea Radrizzani and Victor Orta - right - on the day he was appointed to succeed Marcelo Bielsa Picture supplied by Leeds United.

Having churned out coaches like Julian Nagelsmann, Ralph Hasenhuttl, Hansi Flick and Marco Rose under the watchful eye of Ralf Rangnick (who Thomas Tuchel worked for at Stuttgart), it is no surprise the Red Bull network is the trendy place to go for coaches. Marsch’s last three jobs were working for its three (quick, reach for the sick bucket) “franchises” – New York, Salzburg and Leipzig.

Last year, Barnsley coach Thomas Eckert spoke to me about the learning environment at Salzburg.

“That’s where I got to meet Gerhard [Struber, who left Oakwell to take charge in New York],” he said. “We were all sharing a big office in the academy. If you just take the managers at Salzburg there was Marco Rose, who is now manager of Borussia Dortmund, Thomas Letsch, who coaches Vitesse Arnhem, Gerhard Struber who is now in New York.

“It definitely helped that we had a big office and a few chats about football and the way we see things.”

Jesse Marsch, pictured during his time as head coach of RB Leipzig Picture: Nico Paetzel/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Uncomfortable though their super-charged caffeinating of football clubs to promote their energy drink has been, Red Bull have come to epitomise a brand of attacking football, the theory behind which regularly took place in that “big office”.

It is about attacking, entertaining, risky football based on pressing and “gegen-pressing” – “vertical football”, they call it, and Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp play versions of it too. It has so many hallmarks of Bielsaball but you could never see him selling out to a franchise.

It is an identity Barnsley have tried to copy, working through coaches like Struber and Eckert, dismally with former New York midfielder Markus Schopp.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, which is why, when Premier League managers get sacked at this point of the season, the cry normally goes out to call for Sam Allardyce. The punditry dinosaurs in Qatar who think a British passport trumps a coaching licence inevitably led it at the weekend.

But, even after a battering of a February, these are not desperate times at Elland Road. All is clearly not right, but nor are things so disastrously wrong that things needed ripping up and starting again.

A continuity candidate was needed, not a revolutionary. Marsch ticks those boxes. Now for the difficult bit – turning theory into practice.