New face in charge at Leeds, but the same old farcical defending in defeat by Aston Villa… Jesse Marsch will be given a chance by the fans, but he knows what he is up against in replacing club legend Marcelo Bielsa
- Jesse Marsch’s first home match as Leeds boss ended in a disappointing defeat
- Aston Villa took advantage of dire defending to claim a 3-0 win at Elland Road
- The only highlight for the new Leeds boss was an early tackle by Dan James
It took less than 10 minutes for Jesse Marsch, in his first home match as Leeds United head coach, to celebrate a tackle with more relish than his predecessor Marcelo Bielsa often did a goal.
Dan James had triggered the aggressive press that Marsch sells as his trademark and, when the forward flattened Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings, the American boss punched the air with a ‘Hell yeah’ enthusiasm.
It was not too long before the new man was experiencing the ‘God no’ reality of the job he has taken on.
Jesse Marsch’s first home match as Leeds boss ended in a disappointing defeat
Villa had already twice attempted to execute a move that saw the ball pulled back from the touchline to Philippe Coutinho on the edge of the area.
But Leeds, and their manager, had failed to take heed of the warning. On 22 minutes, Coutinho scored.
It carried with it the inevitability of a concession during the latter days of Bielsa, not to mention a familiar feeling of farce when defender Pascal Struijk diverted the ball beyond goalkeeper Illan Meslier, who had it covered.
Come the end of Marsch’s first half at Elland Road, the biggest cheer had been for James’ tackle.
Aston Villa took the lead when Philippe Coutinho’s deflected effort wrong-footed Illan Meslier
Now, there were boos. Whatever Marsch had instructed, his team had not performed, save for that early press.
He had told Jack Harrison to play more like a ‘son of bitch’ – advertising so in his pre-match press duties – and you can well imagine those were the words Marsch was muttering at the sight of the winger scuffing one corner to the near post before half-time. Again, groans spread around a stadium evidently on edge amid a relegation fight that had forced Bielsa’s sacking.
Not that there was ever any animosity towards the Argentine, whose popularity remains as obvious as the team’s deficiencies.
Defender Matty Cash doubled Aston Villa’s lead in the 66th minute on Thursday night
They were still selling flags and scarves bearing Bielsa’s face outside the ground – there were not, for the record, any Star-Spangled Banners – and it took just 90 seconds for the former manager’s name to be sung with some gusto by those on the inside.
Marsch has acknowledged what he is up against in replacing a club legend, but the warmth of his own introduction before kick-off suggested supporters are more than willing to give him a chance.
He did, however, have to ignore the subsequent chants of, ‘Who the f****** hell are you?’ from the visiting fans to the right of his dugout.
Calum Chambers wrapped up the points with a stunning strike in the 73rd minute
Incidentally, it was from the sanctuary of the dugout that Marsch observed the opening minutes. For a team in desperate need of guidance, it felt like a strange choice.
Come the second half he watched every kick from the touchline, and with his animated presence came improvement.
But it was not enough. Sadly, for Marsch, his sole reason for celebration remained that early tackle.