Jesse Marsch on Daniel James red, Leeds United aggression and injury situation after Chelsea loss

Jesse Marsch refused to blame Daniel James after the winger's rash tackle cost Leeds United dearly in a 3-0 loss to Chelsea.

By Graham Smyth
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 10:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 10:55 pm

For the second game in succession Marsch watched in despair as a senior player ended his season prematurely with a red card, James following in Luke Ayling's footsteps. A first half challenge on Mateo Kovačić earned James his marching orders and may have cost the Croatian a place in the weekend's FA Cup final.

But Marsch, once again, declined to criticise his player.

"One thing for sure is I'm not going to sit here and blame anyone, our guys do everything they can, they stick together, they fight for each other, they do everything they can to keep this team in the match and the league," he said.

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"I love these players.

"First I felt it wasn't a red, I haven't seen it yet but I was told it was a red. Dan said he didn't mean to do it, he was just trying to be aggressive and win the ball and caught him in a bad way."

The American has consistently called for aggression from his players since he arrived at Elland Road but suspects the tension and pressure of the relegation battle may be a contributing factor to the loss of composure from Ayling and James.

"I think that certainly the situation of the table has something to do with it," he said.

ROUGH NIGHT - Leeds United went down to 10 men against Chelsea and lost 3-0 at Elland Road to deepen relegation fears. Pic: Tony Johnson

"We want to be aggressive but certainly not cross the line. We have to be aggressive against the ball, try to win balls and sometimes we've now been too aggressive in certain situations and that has cost us."

The red card is what Marsch felt took the game away from Leeds, although they were a goal down by the time James was sent off and Chelsea had looked comfortable.

"I felt pretty good about that first stretch of the match - obviously we give up an early goal and and that was not our goal," he said.

"We talked about keeping it 0-0 as long as possible so that we can give ourselves a chance, we go down early, but I thought we were aggressive and we were getting after them and then you know, the game was there for us. So yeah, the red card I think obviously changed the match."

The difficulty facing the Whites all season has been player availability, with injuries keeping key men out of action for large chunks of the season and as the campaign comes to a close Leeds' problems show no sign of letting up. Jack Harrison limped off against Chelsea and Raphinha was unable to finish the match, although Marsch says the Brazilian's withdrawal was more a case of exercising caution after he cramped up.

"We'll have to scan them in the morning," said Marsch.

"Raphinha's I think was more cautionary, he was cramping and I just wanted to make sure we didn't push him too much. We'll see how Jack is."

Leeds now face two huge games against Brighton and Brentford as they attempt to climb out of the relegation zone.

"We want to learn from these moments so we don't repeat these kinds of situations and mistakes," said Marsch.

"We have six points left. We have to do everything we can to stay mentally strong."