Less than 12 months on from replacing fan favourite Marcelo Bielsa as head coach of Leeds United, Jesse Marsch has been sacked by the Yorkshire club. The American helped the Whites avoid the drop with a victory over Burnley on the final day of last season, but with Leeds back in a relegation dog fight, the owners clearly felt they had no choice but to fire Marsch in a bid to save their Premier League status once again.
It would certainly not have been an easy decision for managing director Angus Kinnear and director of football Victor Orta to make, especially when you consider they both gave the 49-year-old their full backing in the January transfer window — buying Georginio Rutter for a club record fee of £35.5 million, Max Wober for further £11 and bringing in Weston McKennie on loan — all of whom were hand-picked by Marsch.
Leeds even appointed Chris Armas as Marsch’s assistant head coach on January 25th — less than two weeks before his dismissal — as the pair previously worked together at New York Red Bulls. Armas remains at the club, taking on the co-interim managerial role alongside Michael Skubala — who were both in the dugout for the 2-2 draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The search for Marsch’s permanent replacement goes on, with current PSV boss Arne Slot the short-price favourite in the football bets market at the time of writing. So, as Leeds go through the motions of hiring another manager in such a short space of time, let’s take a look at what went wrong for Marsch at Elland Road.
Ultimately, the American showed no progression from the Biesla era. He won a mere eight of his 32 games in charge in West Yorkshire, and if sitting one place above the relegation zone and in real danger of dropping back down to the Championship was enough to get the Argentine sacked last February then there were no grounds to keep Marsch 12 months on.
What’s more, Marsch was more or less given everything he needed to really kick on this season after saving Leeds from relegation in May. The board spent around £100m on Brendan Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra, Tyler Adams, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca and Wilfried Gnonto in the summer — and, as already mentioned, committed more spending in January — to make the squad better.
But all that funding, plus more invested into the coaching staff, wasn’t enough to turn the results around and it finally became apparent after the 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest — Leeds’ seventh straight Premier League game without a win — that no matter how much backing the board gave Marsch and how much they tried to support him, he was destined to fail.
Of course, replacing Bielsa was never going to be easy and you could argue he was never going to be able to follow in the footsteps of the man who brought the sleeping giant back to the Premier League for this first time in 16 years. The supporters’ admiration for the Argentine and Marsch’s slightly obscure personality meant the manager never really clicked with the passionate Leeds fan base.
Then, there is the American’s style of play. The board had hoped that Marsch could follow the successful blueprint laid by Bielsa and in many ways there were similarities, using width and an aggressive philosophy to counter-press and get in the opposition’s faces. The intensity was perhaps still there, but the end result wasn’t.
Having been sacked by RB Leipzig after just six months and now not even lasting a year at Leeds, what the future holds for Marsch in regards to managing elite-level clubs remains to be seen. But he’s in the past for the Whites and they need to find the right manager to not only keep them afloat, but take them back up the table next season.