'The media in England is so ridiculous' - Leeds United boss Jesse Marsch on prejudice he faces

Jesse Marsch has hit out at prejudice he says he has faced simply for being an American, since taking over at Leeds United

By Graham Smyth
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 5:51 pm

Marsch replaced Marcelo Bielsa on February 28 and was given the brief of keeping the Whites in the Premier League - a job he completed on Sunday with a win at Brentford. The former RB Leipzig boss won four and drew three of his dozen games as Leeds fell into and then climbed out of the drop zone in the final week of the season. Burnley's defeat at home to Newcastle meant a point would have been sufficient but Jack Harrison's stoppage-time winner gave Marsch's men a three-point safety cushion in the end.


At full-time Marsch's name was belted out by the 1,800 away fans as the club put on a united front after weeks of stress and worry, with results elsewhere piling on the pressure in the latter stages of the season.


It has not been plain sailing for Marsch off the pitch either. Supporters took umbrage at his suggestion that he arrived to find a squad who were overtrained, something he insists was not an attack on Bielsa, and there was a mixed reaction to his insistence that the 4-0 defeat by Manchester City felt 'in many ways' like a victory.

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Speaking after that home defeat, in which Leeds conceded two set-piece goals and then succumbed to the now-champions' quality late on, Marsch said: "If we feel we can play like that against City, we can play like that against anybody. On the scoresheet it's a loss, but it's a win in many ways. At 4-0, it's a crazy thing to say but I truly believe that."


Marsch has now addressed the response of the media to that particular quote and believes it's part of a desire to mock him because he's American.


"We were actually playing quite well in the match, we lost 4-0 and I said in the press conference that in many ways it was a win and people over here go crazy," he told Charlie Stilitano and Neil Barnett on American broadcaster SiriusXMFC’s The Football Show.
"The media in England is so ridiculous. Any one thing the American says they want to just jump on and they want to then ridicule and find holes. Whatever. I don't care, I'm not changing who I am, I'm going to be the leader that I want to be and work hard with the group I work with and find ways to grow and get better and succeed, that's what we did."


Marsch's main point about the Manchester City defeat was that those games still have to yield positives and tangible benefits for the team's long-term growth, even if the scoreline doesn't immediately reflect that. "You have to get stronger from the experience of playing them," he added.

JOB DONE - Jesse Marsch has ticked off his first Leeds United brief and kept them in the Premier League. Pic: Getty


He believes that while some of the treatment he has had as an American in the English game is based on what happens on the pitch, he has also experienced 'a form of prejudice.'


"I said from the beginning there's a lot more horrible things happening in the world than me being ridiculed for my accent or being American," he said.


"We can call it whatever you want, xenophobia or whatever but it's a form of prejudice. Some people dont allow that kind of behaviour to happen and will treat me based on what I am or what our team is, that's ultimately what it should be. It's frankly ridiculous that they don't like to hear an American accent in their sport, in their country, it's horrible. But I'm okay with it, I can handle it and there's nothing happening like that in our team. Actually it's totally the opposite, we have total belief, commitment, the guys have responded really well to my leadership style, they like the type of football we're playing. I'm a big communicator so I try to engage everybody to make them feel part of what we're doing and that's what galvanised our group more than anything."


According to Marsch he mainly keeps abreast of what is being written about Leeds so he can address any potential negativity surrounding individuals in his squad.


"They send me media stuff every day and I try to get a quick glimpse about what they're saying about our players so I can manage any negativity within our team," he said.


"The guys that have played here or are from England know what the media is like and don't pay much attention to it either."


Marsch signed a deal until 2025 when he was appointed, having initially been lined up as a summer successor for Bielsa. Now that his first task - keeping Leeds in the top flight - has been ticked off he can get to grips with the summer rebuild that needs to take place in order to give him the squad he and his style of football requires ahead of a first full season in charge.