Tim Howard blames Marcelo Bielsa for Leeds United 'bad habits' this season
Jesse Marsch desperately needs to work on the defensive record at Leeds United if he is to keep his job, but Tim Howard believes Marcelo Bielsa is partly to blame.
Marsch is under huge pressure at Leeds United following a poor start to the season, and he could be in the Whites dugout for the last time against Liverpool next weekend.
The American was brought in to replace Bielsa last season and was tasked with improving Leeds’ defence after they conceded more goals than every team other than last-placed Norwich City.
But defending still remains an issue at Elland Road despite small improvements under Marsch. Howard, who knows Marsch from his brief spell in the United States national team, believes the “bad habits” learned under Bielsa haven’t helped at all.
Speaking via The 2 Robbies Podcast, Howard said: “I look at that third goal that Willian scored, it comes from a throw-in, it’s sloppy defending, they’re doubling down on a throw-in.
“Mitrovic is in the corner of the box, that just needs to be one player. There’s a nutmeg there, there’s a player dangling a leg out.
“It’s that [confidence] but it’s also, you know bad habits are learned. This Leeds team learned a lot of bad habits defensively under Bielsa.
“Jesse Marsch doesn’t want to play that particular way but he’s still dealing with players who learned bad habits, particularly defensively.”
An impossible balance
To Marsch’s credit – Leeds’ defensive record has improved since his arrival. Even while the Whites sit in the relegation zone, they boast a better defensive record than six Premier League teams this season.
But that has come at a huge cost – scoring. While Leeds look slightly more stable in defence, the goals have dried up this season and that’s perhaps down to the increased defensive efforts.
There needs to be a fine balance between attack and defence for a side to be successful. Much of the goal drought is down to the torrid form of Patrick Bamford at Elland Road, but the side has often looked void of creativity too.
If Marsch is to turn things around and keep his job – which at the moment looks near impossible – then he needs to get the balance perfect against Liverpool.
But with Leeds low on confidence and looking shaky at the back, even a defensive outlook on Saturday’s clash wouldn’t likely see Leeds keep out Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Howard is partially right about Bielsa’s bad habits at Elland Road, but at least he consistently got a tune out of the team’s attacking players.
In other Leeds United news, the San Francisco 49ers have little say in what happens to Jesse Marsch