Jesse Marsch's three pre-season priorities revealed as Leeds United boss eyes several additions

Leeds United began their pre-season training schedule on Monday, June 27 with a round of fitness and health checks

By Joe Donnohue
Monday, 27th June 2022, 3:00 pm

Leeds United's players and staff reacquainted themselves with each other on Monday morning as the bulk of Jesse Marsch's squad returned for pre-season testing.

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The routine health and wellbeing checks are conducted every summer prior to the beginning of preparations for the upcoming season.

BOSS: Jesse Marsch has taken charge of just 12 Leeds United matches (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Around two-thirds of the Whites' squad arrived at Leeds Beckett University's sports campus to undergo preliminary drills, weight checks and cardiovascular screening, including those currently sidelined with injury.

It will not be until next Monday that Leeds' tranche of internationals go through the same process. Head coach Marsch has permitted those who represented their countries over the past month an additional week to rest and recuperate.

For that reason, midfielder Marc Roca was the solitary new signing to undergo pre-season testing on Monday. He arrived alongside central defender Robin Koch who was greeted warmly by the club's head of medicine and performance Rob Price.

Overseeing the players' customary tests, Marsch will have pondered the task that lies ahead.

This pre-season poses to be one of Leeds' most challenging in recent years with a relatively new head coach at the helm and two of the team's most influential players on the brink of leaving Elland Road.

Early transfer business should at least mean Leeds are as prepared as feasibly possible but there is still work to be done in the market if Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha leave in the coming weeks as expected.

On the training pitch is where Marsch will be focusing his energy and ideas, attempting to embed his philosophy of play deeper into the players' minds.

That is the most overarching, holistic task of this six-week pre-season window, but there are others, too - more precise and particular.

Deciphering how to evolve the side without Phillips and Raphinha is a problem most managers would find difficult, and Marsch will be no different.

The former US international must devise a tactical plan that complements the attributes of his new-look team, without making the anticipated personnel losses seem glaringly apparent.

Secondly, Marsch must appoint a backroom team rich in top-level experience and strong in number, too.

Last season's final 12 matches saw lead development coach Mark Jackson promoted to first-team coach, as well as Cameron Toshack and Franz Schiemer brought in by Marsch.

Schiemer is understood to be leaving the club while Toshack and Jackson are expected to remain in their current posts.

Former head coach Marcelo Bielsa left a skeleton crew of first-team staff at the club following his February exit and they are yet to be replaced in full.

A decision is expected on a new Under-21s head coach which shows progress is being made on that front, but on the first day of pre-season, there is little clarity over Marsch's backroom and analysis teams.

The 48-year-old's third task is one which is anything but tertiary in terms of its importance: convincing Leeds United supporters of his methods with confident, pre-season displays and an identifiable brand of football.

His predecessor transformed Leeds' style of play during the summer of 2018, so much so that on the opening day of the 2018/19 season, promotion favourites Stoke City were blown away at Elland Road.

Towards the end of last season, there were teething problems as players acclimatised to Marsch's new way of playing.

With six weeks dedicated to training, and no distractions or interruptions in the form of crucial competitive fixtures, Marsch has no better opportunity to corral his squad into a cohesive unit which plays football in his image.

If that can be achieved, appeasing the supporters - and getting results - will be a much simpler endeavour.