Leeds United sands shifting suddenly for Jesse Marsch - Graham Smyth's Verdict on Leicester loss

Leeds United are taking themselves out of matches with mistakes and keeping themselves out with missed chances, which is a sure-fire way to take yourself out of the Premier League.
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Performing as well as they did in the win over Chelsea and Sunday's undeserved defeat by Arsenal is largely meaningless if, against the sides you need to beat, like Leicester City, you don't hit the same heights, or even the net.

If a second half battering of the Gunners was exactly what they needed going into a must-win against the Premier League's bottom side, then a 2-0 defeat at the Kingpower was exactly the last thing the season called for.

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Seven games have now come and gone without a victory but it is this one in particular that has, quite suddenly, put Jesse Marsch's Elland Road future under intense scrutiny.

It was the performance against Leicester, a side with just one previous victory to their name, that prompted chants of Marcelo Bielsa's name and genuine anger directed at Marsch.

His substitution of Luis Sinisterra came under fire, and then his disappearance down the tunnel at full-time as his players and staff faced up to the ire of the away section.

The strength of feeling from match-going fans, unlike perhaps on social media, is almost impossible for decision makers to ignore and Marsch was forced to address it in his press conference. 'Totally unified,' is how he described his relationship with majority owner Andrea Radrizzani and the Elland Road board, but the sands can shift so suddenly in football that Marsch and his fellow managers know their footing is at the whim of results.

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Were Leeds to fail, in that regard, against Fulham on Sunday, then the American could easily and quickly find himself drifting in a direction he does not want to take. That is what happened to Steven Gerrard, sacked by Aston Villa while Marsch was talking to the media on Thursday night, and it might have been the fate of Brendan Rodgers had Leeds come away from Leicester with three points. But they didn't. All that left on the team bus with Marsch and his players was more frustration, questions and pressure.

TOUGH NIGHT - Jesse Marsch and Leeds United are now seven games without a win in the Premier League, as fan anger exploded at Leicester City. Pic: GettyTOUGH NIGHT - Jesse Marsch and Leeds United are now seven games without a win in the Premier League, as fan anger exploded at Leicester City. Pic: Getty
TOUGH NIGHT - Jesse Marsch and Leeds United are now seven games without a win in the Premier League, as fan anger exploded at Leicester City. Pic: Getty

One of his problem's was pre-game selection decisions that were only ever going to look brave in victory, and foolhardy in defeat.

Two changes to the Leeds side were expected - Junior Firpo came in for the injured Pascal Struijk and Patrick Bamford changed the Arsenal game so started ahead of Rodrigo - but by making four, Marsch made a statement, or a rod for his own back. The dropping of Liam Cooper for Diego Llorente was as eyebrow-raising as Crysencio Summerville's introduction, for a first ever Premier League start, in place of this season's creator in chief Jack Harrison, in a game Leeds just had to win.

“We've made a few changes and we’ve brought some fresh legs into the team," said Marsch before the game. Whatever the motivation or the intention, it simply had to work, but Cooper's introduction at the break after a disastrous first half said a lot.

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As for Summerville, he was involved enough in the first few minutes as Leeds started on the front foot, but neither he nor his team-mates could make territory, possession or set-piece opportunities count.

Leicester, under more pressure than the visitors from the start, were perhaps understandably slow out of the blocks but did offer an insight into the problems they would eventually cause when Harvey Barnes threatened to get in behind after Llorente went looking for an interception that wasn't on. An over-hit Jamie Vardy pass was the reprieve on that occasion.

On 17 minutes, there was none. A heavy Marc Roca touch in midfield was the only invitation Vardy and Leicester needed, the striker breaking into space, Dennis Praet taking over and fizzing a ball to the back post that Robin Koch had to go for but put through his own goal.

Leeds' response to the goal wasn't good and their lack of intensity, control and creativity was a world away from the Arsenal performance and what was required. A lucky bounce put Luis Sinisterra away on the half hour mark and he lost then regained the ball to strike the crossbar, before Summerville sent a shot wide.

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The missed chances were almost immediately followed by a Leicester goal, which is how it tends to go for a side in a bad place, and the simplicity of Leicester's second was as troubling as the area of the pitch from whence it came.

The ball went wide, left, then down the channel between Llorente and Firpo and back across goal to where Barnes was all alone at the back post to beat Meslier. Pascal Struijk has, largely, helped fix Leeds' defensive issue on the left side, and without him they looked every bit as wobbly as before.

Brenden Aaronson was the only bright spot in a miserable first half, only to find himself in midfield next to Tyler Adams in the second, from where he could not hurt Leicester at all. Rodrigo came on for Roca to play behind Bamford and Koch was withdrawn, Cooper taking his place to bring balance.

A set-piece led to a chance for the skipper, when Llorente's overhead kick was blocked, but his shot from the rebound was saved well by Danny Ward. That, and other glimmers of hope, never amounted to much more.

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Before it could even get any better it almost got worse, Boubakary Soumare dancing past Firpo and others before a vital Cooper block prevented a third for Timothy Castagne.

Leeds huffed and puffed, Marsch made changes, provoking ire with the Sinisterra one, but a goal was beyond them, never mind a result. That can only be the case for so long, for any manager, before he takes himself out of a job.