Leeds United: A short break and Jesse Marsch will begin the task of reshaping Whites
Leeds United tried to stay single-minded in their pursuit of victory at Brentford on Sunday, now Jesse Marsch wants the same behind-the-scenes focus on setting the club up the way he wants it.
After weeks of uncertainty, the Whites can now plan knowing they will be in the Premier League again next season, following their 2-1 win in West London. A draw would have sufficed but with Burnley only losing 2-1 at home to Newcastle United, Marsch was conscious of guarding against a “lucky punch” at Turf Moor.
But having only taken over as coach in late February, this is his first chance to properly focus on reshaping the squad and the infrastructure around it, and he is determined not to waste it.
“We all need to take a little break, I think we’ve earned it, it’s been a stressful time, but we’re going to have a meeting in the next couple of days where I’m going to talk about how to build this roster and continue to build this club in a way that represents what we want to be moving forward,” said the American, who had not managed in England before.
“I think there’s still so much potential.
“Teams always change, that’s a fact, but from the academy all the way up we need to really focus on the infrastructure of what we’re doing and maximise the potential of what we can become every single day. We have a real opportunity to do that.”
Director of football Victor Orta is in charge of the overall direction of the playing side of the club, but would not be doing this properly if he did not work closely with the man picking the first team.
Marsch also told an interview with American radio station Sirius XM he wants to improve how players physically prepare for games and recover from injuries.
On a dramatic final day of the Premier League with twists at both ends of the table, Marsch was trying to manage his side’s approach to the game, where Leeds had to win more points than Burnley to stay up. He was encouraged by the mindset of his players.
“I sent some of our coaching staff at one point just to watch the (Turf Moor) match because I didn’t need any more help thinking about what to do with our team, I needed to know exactly what was going on and we tried to communicate that,” he said.
“But we tried to get the word out, especially when we were up, that we wanted to win, we wanted to end it and make sure Burnley couldn’t have a last-ditch effort, what in Germany they call ‘the lucky punch’ to seal our fate.
“It’s hard when it’s loud.
“Even when we scored the equaliser our guys didn’t know they were down a man because there was an injury and someone (Kristoffer Ajer) came off so we had communicate that, go through some formation changes, and communicate the score.
“Raph (Raphinha) came over to me and said, ‘We need to win,’ and I said, ‘Exactly – push!’ We changed the formation and we wanted to get the goal.”
Pascal Struijk was of the same mindset, and Leeds were rewarded with Jack Harrison’s goal in the fifth added minute.
“They (the coaches) were saying some things but I really wasn’t too focused about this because we just needed to win the game anyhow,” said the substitute. “Because if we win that gives us the best possibility to stay in the league.”
Captain Liam Cooper is in the Scotland squad that will attempt to qualify for a World Cup where they would face England for the first time.
Steve Clarke’s side face Ukraine at Hampden Park on June 1 in a qualifying play-off delayed by Russia’s invasion. The winners play in Wales on June 5 for the right to go to Qatar.
Whoever comes out on top have been drawn in England’s group and will face them on November 29.