Jesse Marsch's major risk could backfire with Leeds United slip up in final six games
Jesse Marsch took a big risk when he decided to criticise Marcelo Bielsa’s methods at Leeds United for the first time, and now must back it up.
The American appeared on talkSPORT yesterday morning (12 April) and was asked about the injury problems at the club this season by Ally McCoist.
He laid the responsibility for that problem, which has seen Patrick Bamford, Kalvin Phillips and Liam Cooper headline an unprecedented list of absentees, at his predecessor’s training methods, in a major departure from his previous tone.
Darren Bent is seen reacting to the significance of the Whites boss’ words in the video of the interview on talkSPORT’s YouTube channel.
Marsch said: “The injury issue had a lot to me to do with the training methodologies. These players were overtrained, right?
“And it led to them being physically, mentally, psychologically, emotionally… in a difficult place to recover from week to week, from game to game.
“So I have a very specific methodology with the way I work, and I’ve had a reputation for having high running data in the way that we play, but also having healthy, fit, strong players who can meet the standards of the game that we want.”
Nailed his colours to the mast
Since his arrival the former Red Bull Salzburg manager has made a point of not treading on Bielsa’s toes.
He is as aware as anyone the special standing the Argentine holds among the fans of this club.
But now that he has staged a not inconsiderable turnaround in terms of results, he has clearly found the confidence to say what he feels.
The implication is not only that it was Bielsa’s fault that players kept getting injured, but also that it is possible to have fit players who cover a lot of distance without running them into the ground in training.
As long as he keeps delivering results and keeps the club in the Premier League then people will likely come round to that way of thinking, if they haven’t already.
But with survival not yet confirmed, and the most recent performance at Watford much more uneven than the 3-0 scoreline suggests, it is a risky move.
If luck goes against him and results or injury issues suddenly switch, criticising the manager who plenty of fans didn’t want to see go even if it meant being relegated will come back to bite him.
The drop looks unlikely now, but even if a downturn saw survival by a tight margin, supporters could quickly turn on him for suggesting he knows better than Bielsa.
He has given himself less room to manoeuvre but clearly backs himself to make it work.