Everything Jesse Marsch said on Leeds United nerves, Eddie Gray pep talk and Everton survival

A full transcript of Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch's pre-match press conference ahead of the team's trip to Brentford this Sunday

By Joe Donnohue
Friday, 20th May 2022, 3:28 pm

Here is every word Jesse Marsch said in his final Leeds United pre-match press conference of the 2021/22 Premier League season.

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"Luke Ayling had successful surgery yesterday so based on how the surgery went, we're hopeful that it's not too long, somewhere between 2-4 months to see how that progresses but it's a knee issue that he had to get sorted out, so we've decided to take this time to get him healthy.

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CROUCH: Jesse Marsch has spoken to the media ahead of his side's trip to London this weekend (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

"Tyler Roberts was in training today but will not be available for selection. It was his first day back in training. Good to have him back and he's ahead of schedule and will be certainly ready for the start of next year [2022/23]. And then Patrick Bamford has looked really good this week.

"We still haven't made a final decision on exactly where he'll stand for the moment on Sunday but he had a day off today inside to recuperate effectively, but we're hopeful that we can make the decision in the next couple of days that we can make him available for minutes on Sunday.

"Second, I want to congratulate Everton for a hard fought last couple months for them and obviously what a game for them to come back and show resolve and belief and managed to keep themselves in the league. So congratulations. And then for us, you know, I mean obviously, the results haven't always gone our way in the last month. We went from after Watford being nine points up or eight points up and looking like things were relatively secure to then having a lot of teams around us win matches and and being sucked down back into the relegation zone. All I can just say is that we're excited. We're excited for this challenge. We know we have to be at our best.

"I never came here to think that this was going to be easy or that it was a given that we were going to stay in the league, I knew we would have to fight for everything and that's the way it's been and we'll make sure, I'll make sure that that's what I represent on Sunday and make sure that our team does the same. So again, we're really excited for the match on Sunday.

I guess we now know that it's a straight shootout between Leeds and Burnley to stay up. Can you just talk us through the emotions from your point of view of last night. Was it a real rollercoaster for you watching the the other games and how do you approach the match this weekend? From your perspective? Do you have to try and take the stress out of the situation and just focus on winning your game?

Yeah, I watched the matches last night. It's obviously not easy. And there are a lot of emotions going through me when there's different moments in the games. But I think there's always a little something to learn about how teams respond, how teams handle moments, what the body language is like, how players and teams handled difficulty. And so you know, make sure that we are ready in all those ways. Yeah, going into the match. I think we want to be aggressive. We know that we want to win and if we win, we give ourselves the best chance. I think I've been in these situations before in different leagues where on the last day, whether it's for a championship or placing in a league that you need to know a little bit what's going on in another match and and how to manage that throughout the game at halftime in every way. We'll have communication with our team at halftime, for sure and throughout the second half. But the key is that the focus for us is to have a good start to bring ourselves into the match really well to be positive to find a way to get a lead and and in the reverse way that can put pressure on Burnley in the moment if they know that we're having a positive result in our match. So again, it is a moment where we have to still focus on ourselves to be the be our best and play our best but also know exactly what's going on in the other match.

How was the players reaction to last night's results? What was the mood like and how does it impact their mindset knowing that it's not necessarily in your own hands anymore?

Yeah, I think everybody Yeah, I mean, everybody's got a few comments about it, a mixture of being p***** off and emotional or disappointed. But the mood in the training centre today was really good. It was upbeat, it was positive. And we know that we have to maintain a strong mindset and be ready for a big moment on Sunday.

Is this the biggest game of your managerial career when you look at it?

I was asked that a few times in interviews yesterday and I answered it honestly in different ways. But in the end, who cares? What's important is that our team are ready for a huge challenge and that we're positive in our mindset that we believe that we're going to get this done that and that we're clear with exactly what we want the game to look like, and that we're clear with what the opponent is so that's what's most important.

Jesse in some ways is it easier knowing it's a straight shoot-out between you and Burnley?

It would have been a lot easier if we were already locked into the league but the fact that we only have one match to keep track of and we know that we have to out-point Burnley I think yeah, does make it very clear for us and a win gives us the best opportunity.

What's it been like handling their [the players'] emotions?

I mean, I think I do that anyway. You know, I think that's something that I care about is what is the mental standing in emotional standing of every player in our team and then the group as a whole. And I try to represent that by how I carry myself and the things that I say what I would like our team to be and how I would like our team to behave and handle moments. So yeah, I mean on days like today, days after losses and tough moments as a manager I think that's when you have to be at your best. And certainly come Sunday, I want to be at my best and give our team and our club the best chance to perform at the highest level that we can and that's been the focus all week, but it hasn't required a lot of extra energy. The lads have been focused and the desire to do whatever we can is at an extremely high level and we're going to need that again. We're going to have to dig deep again, to survive and thrive and get through this.

Will Robin Koch be available and are there any other injury concerns?

Yeah, no Robin trained today. Yeah, and then no one else. Everyone else that was available last weekend will be available again. Yeah, I think he'll [Koch] be ready from the start.

There's been a little bit of history between these two clubs prior to your time here, Ivan Toney, Pontus Jansson, does that come into your preparation?

I heard about it, and obviously some of our players are connected with it in the history of the two clubs. Eddie Gray was here yesterday and he told me that in the old stadium at Brentford it was always incredibly difficult to play there. And with the newer stadium, it's really nice, but the energy's not as powerful and then maybe it's a little bit easier to play there now, but we expect in their last match of the season when they're in the first league season in the Premier League, for their fans to be there to celebrate what an incredible season and for their team to perform for their fans. And I think at this point, we don't need any extra motivation and we need to expect that Brentford will be at their absolute best and that's what we will do.

Have you spoken to the board about what will happen the other side of the weekend?

Yeah, no, I mean, we've again, not had any communication other than to say that they have done some behind the scenes planning to make sure that we're in good shape in any direction that the season may go, and that's financially, with the player pool, with what the future will bring, that we are very secure and able to move forward in a positive direction, which they said to me from the very beginning. Before I came here I asked the questions about what will it look like if it goes in this direction? And what will it look like if it goes in that direction? They were clear that they had a plan they were able to map out some of what that plan looks like. And there was clarity already. In that sense, they've kind of left me alone to not have to focus on anything other than the job at hand, and to make sure that I do everything I can to keep us up.

We talked about your support to the players. How do you personally cope with the pressure? What do you do as a manager to cope with that?

I actually slept pretty well last night after the matches because I still have a lot of confidence in our group. And obviously, it's better when we fully control that when we're definitely in [the league]. But that's not the case. But the preparation to make sure that that we do whatever we can to make sure that we get the three points on on Sunday is the most important thing. So obviously there are stresses involved. I'm not just saying I'm excited, I am excited. For me, you don't work in this business, unless you want to be in these situations. And like I said, at one point, most of the situations for me have been fighting for titles, more than fighting for your life. But whatever, you know, fighting for results, doing whatever it takes to be successful. That's what this will require.

And as Patrick is back, just talk to us about how much of a boost that would be?

Yeah, well, I would say in general and training, he's looked quite good. And I think I may have even said from the beginning when he had this injury that they say that sometimes the best thing for this injury is to actually rupture it because then it releases the tension in the actual tendon. And that's been the case he feels very different than what he felt like six weeks ago, when he was even trying to play. So yeah, that's good. I think he's looked good. I think he'll have a positive impact. And we're just trying to to physically prepare him in every way to give us as many minutes as he possibly can.

And just finally, obviously it's been a great season for Brentford. What is the key to getting the better of them tactically in your opinion?

Well, there's moments in the phases of the match that I think we have to manage. They're good against the ball and in pressing moments, but they're also have really good movements when they have the ball. Eriksen is a key for them. He's had an incredible positive impact on their team, since he's gotten healthy and started playing again, which is obviously a great story in football. And then, one thing you know about them is set piece situations. They're very creative. They have dynamic players, Eriksen puts very good balls in, they have a lot of variance in what they do, and we've prepared our team. Today it was a set piece day so we worked entirely on video and on the pitch on making sure that we understand what we want those moments to look like.

Anyone in the staff been through scenario quite like the one you're currently going through?

I've been through this a lot. And I know how to stay focused on us, but to also make sure that we communicate the correct information at the right time, so we know exactly what's important. Obviously, again, three points is the most important but you can be in a situation where maybe one point is enough and what does the game look like? What does the other game look like? And then, I mean, everybody in the staff has some football experiences for sure. The weirdest thing for me is that we had to sit and watch a matchday last night that wasn't in congruence with the rest of the league and then wonder what the results were going to be on the last week of the season. That is very unusual. But all of us in football as footballers and as managers have been through these moments.

How do you create an environment that takes the consequences away from the players' minds?

Yeah, right now it's virtually impossible, right? I try to not be a result-based manager, I try to be based on the process, but I've had 12 weeks where that's been really - or 12 matches - where that's been really tough to manage and certainly, this one will be the toughest. However the message has been that we've had a lot of experiences together in a short time and I think we've grown together a lot as individuals and as a group. We've modified a lot of the things that we do, everything from how we behave here at the training centre to the way we play to, to our routines and this will be - has to be - this final matchday has to be a representation of everything we've been through in a positive way to be at our best and put our best performance on the pitch for this moment in time.

You say the decision hasn't been made on Patrick Bamford yet, what do you need to see from him to convince you he can play on Sunday?

More than anything that we're not risking him at any level. At the moment, I don't believe we would be. And then we just have one more meeting tomorrow with Patrick to go through, you know, what it's looked like, what the loads have been, how he feels and then do a final assessment of is he available? How many minutes? What's the best strategy? And then we have to be ready to let them go and play. So that's where we're at.

You mentioned about Eddie Gray coming in, was it purely to do with the Griffin Park angle, what else did you talk about?

He didn't come to give a talk, he just was here and he's such a wonderful man. And he has a lot of wisdom. And he's been very generous to me. So, you know, I like speaking with him. I feel like he's a real person, that he has real experiences. And he's incredibly positive. So we talked everything about what this club is to the community, to what it's like to come here to this Training Centre, to what it's like to represent Leeds United, to his his nephews and sons and you know his connection to what football is, what this club is to the future of the club with his great nephews and grandsons and everything. So, what an incredible man he is and then and that he still can, at his age go jogging three, four times a week and stay fit and he looks like a machine. So I mean, yeah, it was great. It's great having him here and really nice for me also to have that experience.

At the beginning you said your intention was to be the coach, whether you were in this division or in the championship, how do you see it now?

Yeah, absolutely. I'm here. When we talked about coming in, this was about a long term project. And I'm thankful that the club committed to me in that way. Now, you always know as a manager that things get tough, you never know what the future can hold but I believe that the connections we've made and the work, style and ideas of what we think this football life is, really meshed well together. The support I've had from everyone has been amazing. But again, I'm not thinking about right now in this moment. I'm not thinking about the long term project. I'm thinking only about Sunday, and doing everything we can to prepare ourselves for that.

Jesse, how do you sort of strike the balance between the aggression you want to see and over-aggression?

Yeah, I mean, we talked about that a little bit after the red cards, the motivation here is never a question mark and the work ethic and the commitment. And I've said all along that it's about my ability to guide their efforts in a way that can help them be successful as a group. So yeah, that's a challenge right now. It's just about, again, my behaviour and my belief and exuding that with everything I say and do. And then, you know, making sure that that the clarity of exactly what the match plan is and what we want the game to look like and how to handle different moments in the match and to make sure that each player is clear with his role and what we want it to look like and then as a group, and guys off the bench that we're together. We're bringing Adam, we're bringing Stuart, we're bringing Luke, we're bringing Dan, everyone's going to be there together. This is going to be about us being as strong a group as we can possibly be and to be able to stand tall at the biggest moment in our season.

What will be the final words that you'll say to players before you send them out or will you leave it to the players themselves?

I've done a mix of that always but I have ideas through the week that I think will be important for some of the motivational clarity. But I also kind of have to feel the moment at the end too. So it's a combination of everything. And then there are times when I asked the players to say something or to be ready to say something. And at the very least be ready to have energy to support the group in all these moments and they've done a great job. The fans, as difficult as this has been, the fans should be really proud, really proud of these young men in the way that they've come to work every day and the belief they've shown in the commitment to each other that they've shown.

When you were watching the Goodison game, fans on the pitch at the end does that show the impact fans can have but also just a view maybe on safety of players and managers?

I saw that yeah and I saw it in Nottingham, too. You want to see passion from the fans but you want to see respect for the game and the players and the teams and so some of these scenes are tough to watch. However, I don't need reminders of how important the moment is, you know, we are very clear on that. And our fan base has been amazing throughout the process.

As well as survival this group of players have been through so much together. Obviously, many international playes want to stay in the Premier League and that's at stake. Is this group together?

Well, I haven't gone through player by player and scenario by scenario exactly what the consequences could be. But I'm very aware that the best chance for us - there's always changes season to season always - but the best chance to keep the core of the group together is to stay in the league. And so I've really enjoyed the group, I would hate to see some of the guys go on because I think I've made a real connection with the players here. We've really enjoyed our time together. And I think there's big potential of what we could become. So that's a big part of my personal motivation, is to continue the relationships that I have here.

Have you done anything different or special to try and inspire the players?

No, and sometimes in moments like this, I think you have to be careful about over motivating or, or changing too much because it can sometimes add more pressure or more gravity. I don't think we need that. I think we need to stay calm and be clear. So that's a big part of what this week has been like, really focusing on Brentford, what we want that match to look like and how we want to play. I know Eddie was at the side of training and he had a conversation with a couple guys that obviously have known him over the years but then we spoke with Jacko and Jacko was around.