Marsch: I want positional play, Bielsa wanted running

Jesse Marsch: Leeds manager exclusive interview ahead of hosting Chelsea in Premier League clash live on Sky Sports

Marsch: I want positional play, Bielsa wanted running
Jesse Marsch talks exclusively to Sky Sports about tactics, transfers, early impressions; American reveals club are actively trying to sign players before the transfer window closes; watch Leeds vs Chelsea live on Sky Sports Premier League on Super Sunday; kick-off 2pm

Leeds narrowly avoided relegation last season and lost their two best players in this transfer window – but the club has evolved and Jesse Marsch is at the heart of it all.

Speaking exclusively to Sky Sports, the former RB Leipzig manager reveals his insights on tactics, transfers, early impressions and the challenge of hosting Thomas Tuchel’s side this Sunday.

Marsh replaced Marcelo Bielsa at the helm in February and now has both feet firmly under the table after a busy transfer window has helped shape the squad and playing style in his image, while also settling into his new surroundings.

“The Yorkshire people are incredibly friendly and genuine – whether it’s going out for dinner or getting a haircut. I’m just really enjoying the lifestyle,” says Marsch.

“And I’ll tell you what else, the weather has been really good since I came here – so I don’t know why they say the weather is bad here!”

On the pitch, Leeds enter the third round of fixtures in sixth spot after overturning a one-goal deficit to claim a win against Wolves, before losing a two-goal advantage in a 2-2 draw with Southampton last time out.

Early impressions and season targets
So what targets has the American set for his team after the club narrowly avoided the drop last term? “The goal is certainly to not be stuck in the situation we were in last season. The goal is to develop – our playing style and individually – which I think we’re already doing.

“I’m very proud of our team for how much each one of them has committed to me being here and the principles and philosophy I’m trying to instil.

“I think you’ve seen a lot of guys playing at a very high level, maybe, for some of them, at the highest of their career, and so I take a lot of pride in that – that we are developing this the right way.

“The players are investing and we are investing in them. If we do that right, then match results follow suit. That’s my football philosophy.”

High octane, pressing and risk
Bielsa’s high-risk style, which often reaped reward, and always entertainment, demanded extreme physical exertion and endurance from his players – but does Marsch intend to maintain those levels?

“In the Wolves game, we far out-sprinted them and with high intensity, but the heat in Southampton was a major factor. If you look overall, actually, when I came in, our sprints and high intensity were higher than they were under Marcelo.

“But Marcelo had far more accelerations and decelerations – and that’s partly down to [Bielsa’s style of] man-marking, where you’re following guys and trying to stay ahead of them – cutting and changing direction a lot.

“But, with us, what we want to be is really aggressive, and in pressing moments, which requires sprinting. We also want to be very good in transitions, both ways, which also requires sprinting.

“I believe in young players, so we’ve purposely built the squad in the manner we have because we want to develop our entire group. We also need young legs to play the way we want. But, believing in young players isn’t just about blind belief, it’s about them establishing themselves and then us challenging and instructing them on how to grow.

“One of the things you do see, is our numbers against the ball are higher, but lower with the ball – because Marcelo wanted a lot of running around and I want a bit more positional play. Still dynamic movement, but a little bit more disciplined in the holding positions than what he wanted. Believe me, I look very closely at these things!”

Leeds made a league-topping 23 changes at half-time last season (17 under Bielsa and six under Marsch) – which contributed to their average substitute clocking a league-topping 28 minutes on the pitch.

In part, this helped maintain their high-intensity style of play, which is best illustrated by their 6,495 season sprints being 1,220 more than any other side in the league. So will Marsch look to fully utilise the new allocation of five substitutes in every game to help maintain energy levels?

“I’ve had two matches where I’ve only used four substitutes. With this rule, I would typically use five substitutions in the past. But, this season we’ve either had a really young bench or players aren’t fully fit. So I’ve been a bit more hesitant to make the changes and made them a little bit later than I would have liked.航海王劇場版:紅髮歌姬完整版2022_zh在线观看和hd下载-107tQcKzhM

“The changes against Wolves were good – it helped the game. The changes against Southampton came too late. But this is one of the hardest things to do, to evaluate how to make changes and when to make them. With a lot of it, you have to use your experiences from what you’ve seen in the match to know how to use players the best way you can.”

In terms of Bielsa’s high-risk legacy, the stats suggest Leeds maintain their attacking intent. In fact, the Yorkshire side appear to be pushing even higher upfield under the American.

On average, Marsch’s men have started passing sequences around 46m from their own goal this season – only Manchester City and the transformed Newcastle exceed that distance.

While Leeds produced league-topping numbers for sprinting in both seasons since returning to the top flight, the team’s rigorous press proved far less effective last term as opponents frequently carved through midfield and exploited spaces.

However, Marsch has restored solidity in the centre of the park and Leeds rank among the elite for reclaiming possession in the middle and final thirds this season – despite the disappointment of letting a two-goal lead slip at Southampton.

The graphic below highlights how effective these changes have been, with blue shades indicating a higher level of solidity in key areas of the pitch this season.

Advanced data metrics also reveal Leeds currently rank third in the division for restricting opposition to the fewest passes before making a defensive action, and rank fourth for winning high turnovers.

Marsch explains how the team’s progression upfield and controlled pressing are intrinsically linked. “This is what we talk about constantly,” he says. “We have different pressing strategies and it’s not just based on formations, it’s based on what the opponent presents and where we want to overload the match – with and without the ball.

“With the ball, we have been so much more effective and so much clearer in build-up phases and in moments of unbalancing the opponent and asking them more questions on how to defend us in different ways.

“We’ve created more variability, in terms of how we move from four at the back to three, to how many players we position higher up the pitch, in the midfield, and how we overload areas to gain advantages.

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