Here is every word Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch had to say in front of the media during Friday lunchtime's pre-match press briefing.
"Yeah, I'll just do a quick injury update like I've done," Marsch began. "Jack Harrison with the contusion looks positive. He should be in training tomorrow and be ready to go for Sunday. Rapha is fine, and he'll be ready to go. And then Patrick Bamford, it's a little bit too early to tell where he's at and we'll evaluate that over the next days and see what that looks like for the upcoming matches."
Jesse, that is some good news that you've just given us - how will you stay bright and positive with everything that's been going on?
Yeah, you know, obviously, the feeling after matches is painful. When I even go back and evaluate these three matches, the first chance, shot that the opponent has in every game goes in. And so obviously then when you add that with the red cards, it makes the game very difficult. So we've got to find a way to have a better start in the match, see if we can get the lead and certainly eliminate the opponent from scoring so quickly so that we can give ourselves a real shot in the match.
What have you said to your players about red cards given that you've had two in the last last two games and they're very costly?
Yeah, just said the discipline in these moments is important and and we want to be aggressive but not overzealous and and that we know that the best way to give ourselves a chance is to not jeopardise the state of the match by picking up red cards, especially in the first half.
Your last two games, Brighton and Brentford. Ostensibly, they've got nothing to play for in terms of league position in terms of going for Europe or staying up or anything like that. They do have a game in hand your relegation rivals, but how much can that help you bearing in mind that Burnley have got Tottenham and I presume you saw them last night how good they were, and Everton have got to go to Arsenal?
Yeah, I mean for me. I will just start with Brighton and say, in theory, I've heard the phrase that we use here in England is 'they're on the beach'. But if you watch their game against Manchester United last weekend, you wouldn't have said that you would have said what an incredible performance. So we watched that match when we were in the hotel down in London. And we saw a team that was very clear, very confident, good with the ball, good against the ball. And I think that's exactly what we'll expect again. So preparing for them is a little tricky because they do different things in different phases of the match. It'll be a great test for us and then obviously one that we know we need to get the result.
What's the situation with Patrick Bamford? How well has he trained?
Yeah, again, I don't want to say too much about Patrick right now. Let's just see. I just want to, I want to give him the opportunity to continue to progress and then make a decision on his involvement for each match.
Is it up to the player now to say I'm ready, I'm there?
Yeah, I think everybody's working together. It's our medical team. It's Patrick. It's us as a coaching staff just trying to evaluate where he's at and what's the potential for him to be able to help us
Does that change your approach to the players with their mentality going into this game?
It was certainly a discussion point. And we know that being aggressive but not again, overzealous and whether it's discipline, or the pressure of the moment, or that the players want to achieve so badly. It's a combination of things. And so certainly, we know that going into these last two matches, we can't afford picking up any more red cards.
Have you sensed that the players are maybe overly wound up, Jesse?
I asked that internally, with our coaching staff, and we we said, you know, are we over-motivating, but even my last talk that I gave to the team in the locker room before the match against Chelsea was calm, you know, and I've tried to have my finger on the pulse of what the team needs at all moments: tactically, training-wise. And then certainly what the messaging is at all moments. And I think, for my personality, the message from the beginning was that we stay calm, and we stay focused. And I think I've continued with that, but obviously, we have a team here, that is aggressive that especially at home, wants to achieve for their fans, wants to show their fans, wants to perform for their fans. So you know, I think we were aware of that the fact that [red cards] killed us in the last two matches and that we can't have that again.
Is your approach continuing regardless of what happens on Sunday lunchtime, with Burnley's game against Spurs?
Our preparation is such that we feel like we have to win the match, right? And the tricky part is, regardless of the result of Burnley, they have a match to play on Thursday as well. So in the end, the most points that we can pick up in this match will will help our situation so our focus is on winning the game. And I think that's that's the point.
Jesse, do you feel like you've been able to stamp your philosophy on this team yet or have injuries, suspensions hindered that?
Yeah, I mean, it's been a blend of a lot of different things. I've said from the beginning about a style of play and also being pragmatic. And I think that the balance of that with the five matches, or I'd say the seven matches before the City game was really, really good. And we were able to pick up some big results and we were able to turn the momentum. A lot of that came from seizing the moment against Norwich, right?. It was a really good performance against Norwich. But then in the end, we had to find a way to get a win in that game and it changed the entire momentum. And I think that's what's clear for us right now is the situation is not easy and clear that we need points. And we just need to mentally and physically be ready that on the match day we need to be ready to seize important moments. And so that's part of the tactical plan. The tactical plan involves principles and the way that I've tried to get them to transform into the way I would like them to play. It's clear that it's not anywhere near ultimately what I would like it to look like but the mentality of the group, and the idea of what a team is and the work ethic is always there which makes working with this team and these players a lot of fun.
With so many people talking about relegation, some pundits even predicting relegation for Leeds, how much are you and the players using that as motivation?
Yeah, there's certainly a chip on the shoulder with the identity of what this club is. We all know that. To be honest, I haven't read much about what's being said in the media and I don't know that the players have either, you know, we have to focus so much of our energies, especially in this last week with just regenerating and going again and, and knowing that our backs are against the wall and that we need as many healthy bodies. And when I say healthy bodies, I also mean psychologically and mentally healthy, so that we're ready to stand up to this moment in a really big way. So that is entirely our focus. And what's being said on the outside, I don't think it's had too much effect on us.
It's been talked about as one of the biggest games in years this weekend against Brighton, would you agree with that?
I mean, I haven't been here. You know, it's hard for me to reflect on that. I watched the documentary before I came, and I saw some of the important matches in that season. But we obviously know that we need to win, is it a must win? No, but the three points is massive and minimum one, right? So we have to find a way to really, again, turn the momentum. We have two matches. This match it can be the defining moment in the season. For sure.
What kind of support are you getting from elsewhere?
Yeah, we had actually ownership speak to the team yesterday they were all totally unified. That part I love about being here. I think it was one of the reasons I told you from the beginning why I came here. It's because I believed in the people and the people believed in me. In difficult moments, I've been really impressed. I've been really impressed with Victor with Angus with Andrea with Paraag, with everybody's ability to stay together, unified, supportive. That part's been awesome, and it allows me to focus on what I need to do to get the job done with our team.
What was said in that meeting yesterday?
Nothing, I think they just tried to say that we have everything still in our grasp, and that our ability to recover and go again and believe. I think there was a lot of talk about belief, right? So it was a lot of the things that they said I think fit with things that I've said already to the team without me communicating every day exactly what what I'm saying to the team. So that also lets you know that there's real alignment here. So, again, that's incredibly helpful.
What feedback you get from the players across this run games?
They're in, they're all in you know, I mean, when I watch Kalvin Phillips and his ability to represent the club, represent the community, play at his best, be a leader on the pitch in difficult moments, run for the team, never ask questions, do whatever it takes. I mean, for me, in terms of clarity of what it takes to do a job effectively. I don't care what your job is. I don't care if you're a bricklayer or if you're on the street paving roads, this man comes to work, grabs his lunchbox and does whatever it takes to help the team and I could say that about Liam Cooper. I could go down the line. And that's what we have here. And so for me, it's always about engaging them in a way, supporting them in a way and and I know they're all in. I know they're convinced with the way we play. I know they're convinced in who we are and none of them want to see this project end at this moment, I think that's the biggest motivation is everybody understands that to keep together we need to stay in the league. So that's what we're trying to do.
Are you still in control of that dressing room given the red and yellow cards?
Yeah, I mean, it's not in my control. It's are we united, we're totally unified. And the yellow cards and fouls and, like, that's not reflective of a lack of discipline. That's, I think, a desire on the pitch. So yeah, of course, the two red cards, we know they crossed the line and they hurt us ultimately. So we don't want that but we want to be aggressive and we want to go after the opponent
What have the fans given you and what can they do this weekend?
Fans have been phenomenal, amazing. You know, there was a moment after the game obviously we were all disappointed and frustrated. And then we were walking around and clapping the fans and I don't know if you guys saw but there was a little boy that ran on the field. It was like he was running after his heroes. And then you know, we kind of tried to help him out and then Kalvin grabbed him and he took him over and the way that the fans see who Kalvin is, because he puts his heart and his life on the line for this club. And so there's a really a unique sense of community here with this club that I've been able to experience in my short time here that I'm very thankful to be a part of, and I understand fully how special that is. And it's part of the reason for the red cards, I think, is that the players, that desire for them, I don't think it's even an accident that Luke's red card comes right in front of the fan base at Emirates Stadium. It's because they want to do whatever they can for the fans and it's a positive for us and we're going to use it that way and we need them at our backs again.