Jesse Marsch on keeping stars and what Leeds United relegation would mean for his job

Jesse Marsch says he is committed to the Leeds United job regardless of whether or not they suffer relegation this season.

By Graham Smyth
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 8:27 am

The American was initially groomed as a summer successor to Marcelo Bielsa and in his meetings with majority owner Andrea Radrizzani the prospect of managing the Whites in the second tier was broached.

He insists the club's 2022/23 destination was irrelevant when he was discussing a potential Elland Road move, prior to the escalation of the club's plans to bring him in.

"Andrea asked me would I come if at the end of the season they were in the Premier League or the Championship," said Marsch, speaking last week in his first press conference at Thorp Arch.

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"I said that, if I felt the project was right, then absolutely it didn't matter. And so when they came to me eight days ago, it was time to show that I meant that."

Marsch, who got off to a losing start at Leicester City but impressed with the defensive solidity Leeds showed in his 4-2-2-2 system, has his hands full trying to keep Leeds in the top flight, so isn't giving next season much thought.

He gets a second chance to pick up a first win as Leeds boss on Thursday night when Aston Villa visit Elland Road, in what will be his real introduction to the Whites fanbase. Eleven games remain in the Premier League season and Marsch's men have a two-point lead over Burnley, who occupy the 'top spot' in the relegation zone. The Clarets have a game in hand, however and Everton, the side directly below Leeds, have played two games fewer.

The prospect of relegation is unthinkable for the club in almost every way, not least financially. Even just on a personnel front it's difficult to compile a lengthy list of players who would conceivably be happy to play in the Championship. At ownership level, the 49ers are yet to make their future intentions clear but it's obvious that their investment has been geared towards Premier League involvement and the club's grand plans for European football and an Elland Road extension would take a huge hit if they fell out of the top flight.

HERE WHATEVER - Jesse Marsch insists he's here to stay regardless of what happens in the next 11 games for Leeds United. Pic: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Marsch has enough to think about as it is, but says he plans to remain 'no matter what.'

"My focus entirely is not on the Championship, it’s on finding ways that we will be in the Premier League," said Marsch.

"In the end, I'm committed to being here no matter what the situation is because I believe in it so much."

As for the summer, Leeds are expected to field calls for players like Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips, even if they do stay in the Premier League. There was interest in the pair during the January transfer window and a number of clubs with Champions League aspirations are known to be keeping tabs on Raphinha. Neither he nor Phillips have signed a new contract, although both men are currently tied to Elland Road until 2024.

Marsch says he will put his trust in director of football Victor Orta to ensure the squad remains good enough for next season. He's keeping an open mind, however.

"Whenever you work for a club, you know that there’s things that you can suggest and try to work through, but you also know that there are situations that you have to accept," he said.

"Every manager will tell you - and I say this in general - that good players make good managers, not the other way around. Every manager will tell you that he wants as good players as you can give him. You also have to understand that for the health of the group, and the health of every individual, that you have to respect possibilities of what is out there. I’m the type of manager that will try to control what is within the boundaries of what this role is. I try to work very diligently and carefully with the people around me, but I trust the people that are in their roles to do the jobs effectively. I certainly know that Victor Orta, his expertise, his communication style, his ability to help build a roster and a squad and a club in a really good way is really impressive. We will have a close, strong relationship as time goes on, but I certainly trust his ways, there’s no question about that."