Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch buoyed by widespread backing within Elland Road

Not that he is surprised, but coach Jesse Marsch says he has never been as well supported as he is at Leeds United.

Ahead of this afternoon’s Premier League opener at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, the Whites are still on the look-out for a centre-forward, look in need of another left-back and have Newcastle United interest in Jack Harrison to fight off before the transfer window closes on September 1. But, all things considered, it has been a positive close-season for Marsch so far.

The American lost his prize asset, Raphinha, but that always felt inevitable if Barcelona came up with a realistic bid.

The loss of the talismanic Kalvin Phillips was harder to take but even easier to explain with the prospect of playing for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the Champions League.

BUOYED: Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The money has been reinvested in Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca and Luis Sinisterra, plus “development signing” Darko Gyabi. Experienced goalkeeper Joel Robles is expected to arrive as a back-up soon. Given that the first three have all played for Marsch before and have been followed by new coaching appointments, it certainly feels as though the American has been able to put his stamp on the squad inherited from Marcelo Bielsa.

Marsch is the third favourite in the bookmaker’s odds to be the next Premier League manager out of work and still has some supporters to win over, but there has been no half-heartedness from the boardroom.

”I’ve expressed almost daily my appreciation to Andrea (Radrizzani, the chairman) for his support,” said Marsch. “When we’ve made plans that he’s carried them out, and invested heavily.

“We were very sure in every transfer we attacked in this window and now we’re just trying to really evaluate the team carefully to make sure whatever (further) additions we make fits the way these others have already done.

SUPPORTING ROLE: Leeds United owner Andrea Radrizzani chats with Victor Orta, director of football. Picture: Tony Johnson

“Every manager wants more money but we really like our team.

“It was easy for me to see from the first day I came in that the club and the people at Thorp Arch and Elland Road supported Marcelo 100 per cent all in. I took that as a real positive and opportunity for myself. I’ve never felt so supported in my life so it’s a real credit to this club.”

Radrizzani has said Raphinha’s sale, for an initial £49m potentially rising to £57m, was necessary, and added Leeds have safeguards in case massively-indebted Barcelona fail to pay on time.

“It was more a sacrifice to buy the players we needed to reinforce the squad,” he explained. “We cannot do another three years spending £100m without any (transfer) income. This is the first year in the Premier League that we sold players.”

INCOMING: Real Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles Picture: Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Leeds agreed a fee to sell Raphinha to Chelsea “but unfortunately,” Radrizzani told The Athletic, “let’s say Barcelona influences convinced the player to wait until they could find a solution.

“I didn’t want to let (Phillips) go (but) he was very clear it was his ambition to play at that level.

“These two deals are important, not only to give us the opportunity to buy but also to be perceived by other talented players as a destination before they go to the big club.

“But over time we will have to be better at keeping some players.”

Leeds agreed a £33.5m fee to sign Club Brugge forward Charles de Ketelaere, only to miss out to AC Milan.

“The fact he was 50-50 about Milan or Leeds for a period makes me proud that we are in the right direction,” said Radrizzani, who also revealed Leeds have asked Bielsa for permission to name their training ground after him.

At least if a new striker is not forthcoming Patrick Bamford is fit to start the season after an injury-plagued 2021-22.

“He looks great, he looks fit, he looks strong, he looks sharp,” said Marsch.

“We’ve actually been able to work through what tactically we want him to look like and I thought the way he played against Cagliari (in last week’s friendly) was in the vein of the direction that we want him to go.

“Is he at 100 per cent? Probably not quite yet, but he’s really close.

“We’re going to need Joffy (Joe Gelhardt) to come off the bench at times to help him. I think we can play with both of them at times. I think Rodrigo can play as a striker as well. We know that’s not Dan (James)’s preferred position, but there’s different ways where we can play with nine, half-nine, two strikers, central 10.”

He also suggested Aaronson was a possibility there.