'An incredible bloodline' - Jesse Marsch on Archie Gray and Leeds United 23s catching his eye

Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch says 16-year-old Archie Gray has qualities that will help him develop quickly, but patience will be key.

By Graham Smyth
Thursday, 17th March 2022, 2:27 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th March 2022, 2:28 pm

Marsch was present at Elland Road on Tuesday night to watch Gray come off the bench for the 23s against Manchester United and make a game-changing impact.

The Whites were already a goal to the good and playing well but Gray's pressing forced a turnover of possession that led to a Max Dean goal and shortly after the ball broke to the substitute 35 yards out and he fired in his first goal for the 23s.

Gray wasn't the only one who caught Marsch's eye.

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"I thought it was a really good game for a lot of our guys," said the American.

"We're trying club-wide, slowly, to implement a new playing style and have it be put to practice at all these games and I thought that the 23s showed a lot of aggression, a lot of quality and a lot of clarity in terms of the way we wanted to play. So I think the staff, Andrew [Taylor] and his staff have done a really good job with that group and we were really happy to see them play so well and get that win."

Several individuals came in for praise from the new head coach, some of whom are already playing a part in his first-team squad.

"I thought that a lot of those guys played really well," he said.

INCREDIBLE BLOODLINE - Archie Gray counts former Leeds United players in his family, including dad Andy, grandfather Frank and great uncle Eddie. Pic: Getty

"I thought Sam Greenwood was really good. I thought Crysencio Summerville played really well, Jenkins I thought was really good in the midfield, you know, we had the two centre backs Nohan [Kenneh] and Charlie [Cresswell] were both very good. And also Kristoffer [Klaesson] in goal also played amazing."

Gray impressed Marsch with his cameo in the 3-0 victory, which was attended by almost 10,000 at Elland Road.

"When Archie comes off the bench I know there's a massive anticipation for him to be a big, talented player," he said.

"And I think that he's intelligent. He can read the game really well. He can run all day. He's good on the ball.

"He's got a lot of really good qualities to be a strong player in the middle of the field."

Marcelo Bielsa reluctantly included Gray on the bench for a pair of Premier League games earlier this season, due to the injury problems within the squad, but he has trained with the first team and shown in 23s action and the EFL Trophy why the club are so excited about his potential.

Marsch says Gray is excited about his football too, but everyone needs to keep their expectations in check.

"I think it's always key for us here even speaking in the media - listen, Archie has an incredible bloodline, he's a big talent here a home a homegrown talent - but we also have to I think support him and believe in him but also be patient with him and not put too much on his shoulders at a young age," said Marsch.

"But from getting to know him as a personality I think he's excited to be on the pitch every day. He loves football. He loves training. He has a lot of really strong qualities as a person that will help him develop rather quickly."