It started like most Sunday’s, up early for work and tried to put behind the thoughts of the afternoon’s event. The week before I was sat in the press box tears in eyes as Pascal Struijk equalised deep into stoppage time to keep Leeds’ hopes of staying up.
I’d tried to convince myself and the other people I met that Leeds had gone, a thought magnified when Thursday’s result unfolded. They weren’t that bad, Burnley only draw which meant they went into the final fixture level with us but Leeds’ goal difference felt like another point against us. Everton were safe after coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
Back to Sunday, sorry this weeks events seem to merge into one but I’ll try to keep on track. As midday past, nerves kicked in only four hours to go before our fate was decided at the home of Brentford. Jessie Marsch didn’t have Pat Bamford back from injury, the player in his sick bed due to COVID. In came Sam Greenwood and into midfield as Mat Klich moved to the bench. ‘Joffy’ Gelhardt kept his place leading the line in a 4-1-4-1 formation.
I was still at work as they kicked off, a few nervous looks at Twitter said Brentford has had a couple of opportunities but failed to take them. Then joy, Leeds went ahead, ‘Joffy’ around 20 minutes. Then Newcastle scored from a Wilson penalty around the same time. My joy lasted a minute when Gelhardt’s goal was ruled out by VAR for offside. Bugger! Newcastle made it 2-0 through Wilson, his second to give Leeds more hope.
I was home, TV was on, girlfriend in the lilac shirt and beer was in hand before the half time break. A nervous cigarette then back to the game that was delayed due to an injury to Jolinton which delayed the end of the first half at Burnley.
Leeds were impressive and with more width they looked a different team as Harrison and Raphinha used the wings to get around the back of Brentford. The first goal came when Raya played a ball into midfield, Rafa the gaffa seized on it and was halted by Raya and a penalty given. A quick shuffle sent Raya the wrong way and Leeds were 1 up.
Could they hang on? Well they were given a hand as Frank used three subs then lost another player to injury meaning they were down to 10 men. Brentford then bloody equalised, Canos getting the goal and then booked for taking his shirt off, incredibly he was sent off a minute later for upending Rafa. Bloody stupid but what a boost for Leeds.
With Burnley back in their game thanks to a Cornet goal my nerves were spent and I spent the last ten minutes either on the step outside the house, muttering to myself and saying a prayer to the big man upstairs. I was in bits to be honest.
With time up at Burnley, they’ed lost 2-1 Leeds were awarded a corner in injury time, Rafa’s corner was headed out to Harradonna and via a deflection it flew past Raya to send the staff on the sidelines, the players and the fans into jubilation. I just cried, not being able to take in what I’d just witnessed. Bloody incredible scenes at the end.
It’s not the time to point fingers but lessons need learning, the purse strings need slackening and quality players need bringing in. For me at least four more at least need to come in before the players report for duty in June.
Thank you Marcelo, because without him we wouldn’t have got to the Premier League. Cheers Jessie for doing what you came in to do and Thank you players because when it mattered and the last dice was thrown they came with the goods and got a win I’ll never forget.
Footnote: We never lost in the lilac 3rd kit. Played 4 in it 2 wins, 2 draws. Stat by @lufcstats.
By Keith Ingham
Maybe, just maybe this game sums up a less than satisfactory 2021/22 season. The 1-1 draw might save Leeds from relegation, it may not but endeavour hasn’t usually been questioned it more application that has been levelled at both Bielsa and Marsch’s teams but Struijk’s injury time leveller showed that they kept going until the final whistle, not all the time but today they did.
Jessie Marsch brought in Joffy Gelhardt, Junior Firpo and Mateusz Klich into the staring X1 for the suspended Dan James and Struijk and Bate who dropped to the bench.
Leeds should have been in front early doors but an acrobatic shot from Gelhardt struck Liam Cooper right in the face as the Leeds captain was stood near the goal line. It kind of sums up the luck Leeds have had this season. Gelhardt had two efforts and Harrison another but none worried Sanchez.
The opening goal came from a Leeds forward move, Rodrigo had the opportunity to release Harrison but dallied and within 60 seconds it was at the feet of Welbeck and he beat Meslier with a chipped shot into the corner of the net on twenty minutes. Brighton were ripping Leeds apart down the left hand side and could have added further goals from McAllister, Grob and Welbeck.
Mateusz Klich came so close to giving Leeds a leveller near the break when he worked an opportunity to shoot that seemed to get a little of Sanchez’s glove and a lot of the far post.
Leeds playing a 4-1-4-1 formation looked better with Raphinha hugging the left touch line and Harrison wider on the right. Phillips in his more favoured holding midfield role seemed more happier and was definitely more involved than against Chelsea.
The second half Leeds had to move Brighton on the back foot, a thing they did and if it wasn’t for Sanchez they would have been in front. The keeper keeping a Klich effort out and superbly saving a Raphinha free kick that was destined for the top corner. Brighton should have put the game to bed when Welbeck headed wide from two yards out.
Leeds brought on Shackleton for the struggling Koch, Struijk came on for Firpo who had a better second half and Greenwood surprisingly replaced Klich who I thought was having a decent game. The substitutions brought mumbles from the crowd which turned in the last ten minutes to chants in support of ex coach Bielsa and asking the owner to sell up and go home.
A twist would happen in injury time, Llorente put a ball that found Gelhardt. The youngster showed sublime skills to beat a couple of defenders before sending a ball to the back post. The head of Pascal Struijk met the cross and he headed it down and into the net via a defender’s leg. Cue scenes of joy from all around the ground and a few tears from me. It could be a really important goal as both Burnley and Everton lost their games.
Incredibly Leeds have scored in the 91st, 92ed, 93rd, 94th, 95th and 96th minutes of games this season. Quite an achievement and shows they keep going to the final whistle.
Jesse Marsch: "Our goal was to get three points but we knew any points and Burnley losing could shift the pressure the other way. Burnley have a match in hand but to fight and stay in the match especially in the second half when we were quite good. We were a bit unlucky not to come away with more.
"The first corner we had our chance but the way it's going it hits our own player in the face and prevents it being a goal. The first half we couldn't settle. Our confidence on the ball wasn't good enough. And our pressure was all over the place. That meant Brighton caused us trouble. We tried to be more compact after 30 minutes and from there we pushed the game really well.
"This is a psychological battle. We have to stay strong and show up next weekend and be at our best. When we are put in difficult situations you can see the resolve of our team. But we need to show that in the beginning of our matches. It's a fight and nothing comes easy. We dig holes and then have to dig ourselves out. But we're ready to invest everything in our last match and see if we can do this."
Graham Potter: “In the first half we created some really good opportunities. We had lots of good play, good opportunities and got into the final third and the box a lot. But, in fairness, in the second half Rob [Sanchez] had to make a couple of good saves, so I wouldn't begrudge Leeds their point.”
The game had ended and Kalvin Phillips took the family for a kick about on the field as the crowds ebbed away and tried to put a smile on Raphinha’s face who was slumped against a post at the Kop end of the ground. It is hoped that both are kept if Leeds manage to stay in the Premier League.
It’s hard to ‘love’ a season that has seen the departure of an icon who was Marcelo Bielsa and a team that failed to move on from the 9th placed finish the season before.
Man of the Match: Pascal Stuijk
By Keith Ingham
Leeds failed to make it three wins from three as they took a point from an entertaining game at Elland Road.
Leeds skipper Liam Cooper returned to action for the first time in four months against Southampton. Cooper, sidelined due to a hamstring injury since early December, was named in the starting lineup as head coach Jesse Marsch made two changes.
Centre-half Cooper replaced Pascal Struijk and Raphinha - back after recently testing positive for Covid-19 - started in place of Patrick Bamford (foot). Kalvin Phillips was on the bench following his recovery from a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, Southampton made four changes following their recent FA Cup defeat to Manchester City, with Che Adams, Armando Broja, Ibrahima Diallo and Jan Bednarek all returning.
Leeds urged on by a packed Elland Road tried to get an early goal in their clash with ‘The Saints’ but frustratingly the final ball would drop right to a white shirt.
The best chance came from a corner that Llorente headed goal wards only to see it drop the wrong side of the post much to his dismay.
Southampton did threaten on the break and after a good run down the left the ball found Elyounoussi who blazed the ball over the bar. It was end to end but neither keeper had much to worry them, until just before the half hour.
Luke Ayling, Mateusz Klich and Raphinha combination ended with Raphinha racing to keep the ball in, which he did superbly. The ball went across the six yard box and Foster pushed out the ball, unfortunately for Southampton the ball landed at the feet of Harrison who passed the ball into the net.
Leeds lost a little momentum and Southampton saw a way back and only a fantastic save by Meslier and a following goal line clearance denied Adams when the striker twisted and turned in the box ten minutes from the break. Walker-Peters also had a shot just over minutes later.
With the game only minutes old in the second half Southampton equalised. Ward-Prowse sending a superb free kick past Meslier who got a fingertip to the ball but to no avail. The keeper’s positioning might have been questionable but it was a sweet free kick that would have beat most keepers.
Jessie Marsch brought on Gelhardt on the hour in place of James who had struggled to get anything from the Southampton defence. Then a few minutes later the moment all Leeds fans had waited for .. the return of the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ who had been out since December, he replaced Mateusz Klich who hadn’t had a bad game.
In a move that Stuart Dallas started ended with him seizing on a rebound but his volley was saved by Foster then cleared. In the last ten minutes Gelhardt got into the box and he appeared to be impeded by Salisu but the referee didn’t even give a corner for the challenge. The incident wasn’t even looked at by VAR.
To be honest it was a fair result, both teams had opportunities but maybe if Phillips and Gelhardt had started it might have been enough to get the three points.
Jesse Marsch: "It was an intensive game with a lot of second balls and duels and one that we should have won. "I feel like the clarity, tactically, what we want the game to look like, I thought we were balanced in the match and didn't give much away.
"I did less shouting at the players during this match because they were more in control of every situation.
"Best counter-pressing game for us by far. Good in pressing moments. With the ball in build-up phases against a team that likes to press, we still find a lot of solutions.
"It's a natural progression, but one that's happened faster than I had hoped because of the commitment and intelligence of the group."
Ralph Hassenhuttl: "I can guarantee you it's not the last he will score. He's for sure one of the best in the world in this part of the game and for us a very important player.
"I don't need to talk about [his other qualities]. You can talk about it. Tell the people it's more than just set-pieces.
"It's not a coincidence that he plays nearly every minute for us. He's physically unbelievably strong, his recovery is super because three games in a week are not a problem for him. This is a player you need to have.
"We had more chances. I think we had the better ones and we have been closer to winning this game, but in the end we have to take the point.
By Keith Ingham
In a mental four minutes a win turned to a draw then incredibly to a victory in the maddest end of a game you’ve probably ever seen at Leeds.
Leeds make changes from Thursday’s defeat to Aston Villa. Leeds striker Patrick Bamford makes his first start since September. Junior Firpo was kept out of the squad with a knee injury, Stuart Dallas goes to left back. Diego Llorente returns at centre back. Jack Harrison drops to the bench as does Robin Koch.
Norwich make three changes from their 3-1 defeat to Chelsea. Grant Hanley was unavailable for Norwich after testing positive for Covid19. Christoph Zimmermann also out with an eye infection. Gibson, Rupp and Rashica back into starting XI.
After Thursday’s gut wrenching defeat to Villa Leeds had to show the fans the spirit that seemed to have left them after the departure of Marcelo Bielsa. I’m not saying that is the main reason for a pitiful run that has seen them lose six games on the bounce but it is a factor in my opinion.
They did indeed show the fight many, including myself had asked for pre game and challenges from Forshaw, James and Ayling left nothing to the imagination. Ayling a little lucky when a challenge near the byline went to VAR but luckily he only saw a yellow for it.
After sustained pressure Leeds went ahead for the first time in a game since Aston Villa in February. Rodrigo beating Krul via a slight deflection off Gibson. The Spanish international raced off to celebrate with the rest of the match day squad on the sidelines.
How Leeds didn’t go into the break at least three to the good is down to bad luck and poor finishing. Bamford’s wonderful cross into the six yard box was caught superbly by Raphinha’s boot but the power to it up and it hit the cross bar and bounced to safety. Pascal Struijk forced Krul to save well from a corner but with the goal at his mercy he shot over from the rebound.
Norwich, when in possession offered little and Meslier for once had only his concentration to worry about, a few balls flying over heads when he tried to start a move. James was sent flying in the penalty box but the referee judged it a fair challenge though I’ve seen them given for less especially against Leeds.
Patrick Bamford had the last chance of the first half when Raphinha’s lovely through ball found him inside the area. The striker’s finish was unfortunately woeful as instead of putting it across Krul he put it will wide of the post.
A very good first half, fight, determination all over the field and thankfully miles better than we saw against Villa.
Jack Harrison replaced Patrick Bamford after the break with Daniel James going up front. Leeds were still on the front foot and Rodrigo’s ball into the box unfortunately didn’t find a white shirt. Harrison then tried to find Raphinha but the ball was just too short for the winger.
As the temperature went up around Elland Road Rodrigo found Raphinha who’s shot was blocked and as James netted the rebound cheers fell silent as it was ruled offside. On the left hand side the battle between Jack Harrison and Arrons was an interesting side plot that ended with the Leeds winger ended in the book for a number of ‘challenges’.
Norwich thought they had a lifeline when Ayling looked to have clipped Rashica in the penalty area. The referee awarded a penalty but VAR asked him to review the incident. He overturned his decision and Leeds were out of jail. James was booked in the melay that followed the incident.
As the action continued Harrison was felled outside the area. Raphinha took aim and could only look in anguish as the ball beat Krul but not the bar. In all games one moment or moments can change a game, it came on 90 minutes as the board went up to show six minutes of injury time to play.
Norwich defender found Pukki who drove into the area and his ball into the six yard area was met by McLean who beat Meslier to net the equaliser. It seemed too cruel for the Leeds fans to believe and many believed that a must win game would end up in a draw that Norwich really didn’t deserve.
Jessie Marsch had one card up his sleeve to play, young striker ‘Joffy’ Gelhardt who replaced the hardworking Mat Klich. Norwich had an effort on goal which went wide then another that went into Meslier’s hands. He launched the ball goal wards, substitute Gelhardt won the ball and flicked it to Raphinha.
The Brazilian winger strode towards the goal with the screams of the fans saying “Go on!” in his ears. He beat Krul with a flick of his hips and went wide. The chance looked to have gone but the winger clipped the ball into the six yard box and Gelhardt slammed the ball into the goal. 1-1 had become 2-1 and the ground erupted. It was 94 minutes on the clock.
Unbelievable Norwich, right at the death could have equalised A free kick was cleared but the ball was returned by Krul up for the dead ball and it past the Leeds defence to fall at the boot of Pukki, his shot smashed into the face of Meslier and Leeds survived in an incredible last few minutes of the games.
Pretty hard to pick out single players but Klich and Forshaw won their midfield battle, Raphinha and Rodrigo were superb in the first half and the defence looked a lot steadier with Ayling at right back and Llorente alongside Struijk. Dallas rarely disappoints at left back too. Good to see Paddy back but he looked ‘rusty’ but 45 minutes will be great to have back in his legs. His sharpness will return with games played.
Well done lads you stood strong when you needed to and bloody hell did we need that win!
Man of the Match: Rodrigo, his best display in a Leeds shirt.
An important first win for Marsch
By Keith Ingham
With Leeds entering a new era; there are set to be changes both tactically and within the personnel.
Under Bielsa there were an abundance of players who flourished and unlocked potential unbeknownst to even themselves.
Here we look at three players who could be set to shine under the tactics of Jesse Marsch with his free flowing pressing style with so much emphasis on attack.
The Spaniard has failed to find goal scoring form since his club record breaking signing and it’s not for a want of trying.
We have seen glimpses of the goal scoring prowess that made him a formidable international forward but a position change had seen him lose his touch infront of goal in favour of a more technical supporting role.
Under Marsch, it’s likely Rodrigo will begin a partnership as part of a two striker partnership. The Bielsa era Rodrigo could flourish in this role having developed a keen skill to get in behind the lines of defence and midfield; while allowing for him to challenge further up field and get himself in scoring opportunities.
A 4-2-2-2 formation could bring back the old Rodrigo but with a few Bielsa trained upgrades making him a competent and potentially deadly complete forward.
It’s safe to say that Leeds’ performances have coincided with a dip in form for the usually mercurial Raphinha.
Benched, hooked at half time and sometimes missing in games; the talented Brazilian hasn’t been at his best for some time and has struggled along with the rest of the squad.
A very common tactic of Marsch is to utilise inverted wingers to bring his attacking formation into a narrow alley.
Gifted in the ball and with a howitzer of a left foot, Raphinha will now have free reign to come inside from his favoured right wing position and create one-two’s and goal scoring chances with this style of play.
The evolution of Marsch’s tactics could show an even more evolved and attacking Raphinha tear Premier League defences apart.
The Cookstown Cafu has had a mixed year in a variety of positions after his ascendency in the Premier League last season.
Now the inclusion of Marsch’s tactics could mean a return to the heart of midfield until the return of the missing Kalvin Phillips.
The American will need tireless midfielders who can provide support in both the attacking and defensive movements of the side and Dallas is by far our strongest midfielder when you consider both phases of the ball; as shown in the incredible form of last April.
A return to the tireless midfielder that showed some of Leeds’ best performances could be the key to the start of the Leeds returning to form.
Who do you think will be the most improved player under Marsch? Have your say in the comments below.
By Ryan Ingham
Leeds fans should be expecting a change in football ahead of Jesse Marsch’s first game in charge on Saturday and here’s the lowdown on how the club could start to play.
Some of the football will seem familiar to start with. Leeds will remain a pressing side that will continue to have a big engine and an emphasis on fitness and pressing the opponent from the attack.
However, the standard formation Leeds have settled on under Bielsa is where you will see large changes.
Marsch is not known to have one formation he persists with throughout every game. Instead he has been known to cater his formations on the opposition he is set to face.
During his first season in charge of RB Salzburg, Marsch used no less than nine different formations to guide them to the title. However, Leeds could see the likes of a 4-2-2, 4-3-1-2, 3-5-2 or a 4-4-1-1 be displayed while the American head coach gets to grips with English football.
Known as a disciple of Ralf Rangnick’s Gegenpress style of football; Marsch will want Leeds to overload teams between the defence and midfield both in attacking and defensive situations.
The ‘shadow-press’ style of football allows for his team to commit two or three players to cut out short passing and isolate players when trying to play connecting passes.
Marsch will allow teams to have several players out wide on the other side of the field to further press the short channels and win the ball back to counter.
By shadow pressing and commuting bodies to the short ball; this means counter attacks can be made from within the opponents half and players are already their to support attacking situations.
Leeds will likely cut out the ability of switch passes to further their attacking flexibility and see a more direct and fluid attacking movement based on pace and restricting the time the opposition has to settle back into a formation.
Crossing will rely on flat and low balls into the box with several players approaching the ball to allow for optimal chances created. This could see a massive benefit to the shorter and less vertical players Leeds currently occupy in the attacking areas.
Gone are the days of murder-ball at Thorp Arch, but a more continental Rondo is likely to be adapted.
This creates small areas and a reliance on both pressing and passing in tight positions for the players to familiarise themselves with.
As you can see from the diagram below, Marsch likes to create interlinking channels to create attacking situations.
Players are not allowed to break away from the pattern and short, direct and accurate passing is needed in order to optimise the Americans tactics efficiently.
It’s a new head coach and a new era at Leeds but the promise of fluid, attacking and workmanlike football looks set to continue at Elland Road as Jesse Marsch sets up for his first stint in English football.
Will he be a success? Well the talent is there and the willingness by the players will be questioned. Let’s hope he is ready for the challenge ahead.
By Ryan Ingham
Just as swift as the decision that the Bielsa era had to end, Leeds have began their new era under Head Coach Jesse Marsch.
The American born head coach has spent time away from football since his short spell with German outfit RB Leipzig.
It was at the German clubs sister outfit that Marsch really brought his career and name to fruition though, haven’t spent two years with RB Salzburg.
Marsch spent two years at Salzburg and one the Bundesliga and Austrian Cup during his time with the club.
During his time in Austria he boasted top talents including Erling Haaland, Patson Daka, Dominik Szoboszlai, Hwang Hee-Chan and Minamino to name a few. These players have gone on to make incredible names for themselves in several of Europes top leagues.
His style of play, a fluid attacking gegenpress not unlike the Ralf Rangnick style that has been praised over the past several years in Europe will not be unlike the previous attacking football that Leeds have experienced over the years but will still be a far cry from the Bielsa-ball that fans have come accustomed too.
The appointment of Marsch may have come sooner than expected for several fans and pundits; but it very much seems that leeds have pulled the trigger on the deal having courted the American to replace Bielsa at the end of the season.
It’s likely that the club were not the only team in Europes top divisions to be looking at the head coach and with the run of form the club were on and outside threats; a deal was made to succeed Bielsa early in the hopes that a change in office can salvage this season.
Marsch brings with him success at a decent level and a style of play that should be easy to settle in to fairly easily for the squad.
Heavy weighs the shoulders of any man who would take the job on to succeed Bielsa, but many fans should know this is no appointment to scoff at.
A young, hungry and forward thinking manager who has received praise from several of footballs analysts and managers alike; it could be a brilliant chance for both the club and the new head coach to start afresh.
Marsch’s deal has been confirmed to go until the end of the 2025 season and the expectation is that if survival is successful, investment will be made in the summer to allow the new head coach to perfect his playing style.
No man could ever replace what Bielsa has given this club, but fans should feel at ease that Leeds have secured a talented manager to start a new era.
A big week lies ahead for Leeds and Marsch and we will all see what a post-Bielsa era looks like at the King Power on Saturday.
By Ryan Ingham
Like most fans I was upset at hearing last night after the Spurs game that Marcelo Bielsa was about to leave the club. A series of heavy defeats and poor performances had given the board to either ‘stick or twist’ with the Argentinian.
As it turns out they had decided enough was enough after Wednesday’s humiliating hammering at Anfield and started to look elsewhere for somebody to replace Bielsa.
I was going to remind people of the amazing times, the games, the joy and the tears but I thought that many would be doing just that on their platforms. So, instead myself and weallloveleeds would just like to say THANK YOU to Marcelo for turning a club going nowhere to a team that for the last three seasons has given us and the city of Leeds so much joy.
My best Marcelo you will always be loved and remembered in a place you came to love.
Adios amigo 💙💛
Kalvin Phillips fitting tribute to the great man.
Don’t be sad it ended, be glad it happened.
By Keith Ingham