Can Jesse Marsch transform Leeds?

Following their 4-0 defeat to Spurs in Gameweek 27, Leeds parted company with Marcelo Bielsa. Bielsa left Leeds sixteenth in the table and without a win in their last six Premier League matches. Can new head coach Jesse Marsch transform Leeds United’s season and gets them back to being attractive FPL options?

American Jesse Marsch has previously coached at New York Red Bulls, as well as across Europe with RB Salzburg and most recently RB Leipzig. The appointment of Marsch will likely transform Leeds’ playing style.

Talking about his new head coach Leeds Director of Football said:

Jesse is someone we identified a number of years ago during his time at Red Bull Salzburg and we believe his philosophy and style of football aligns with that of the club and will suit the players very well.

We have a long-term plan and firmly believe he can take Leeds United to the next level and are excited for what the future holds

Victor Orta – Director of Football Leeds United

Jesse Marsch – Style of management

When asked about his plans for Leeds Marsch stated:

The short term is about keeping the club in the Premier League but in the longer term it’s about continuing to grow and to be the club the fans feel it deserves to be which is one of the elite clubs in England

Jesse Marsch – Head Coach Leeds United

He also commented on his playing style and what that might mean for how Leeds play:

There’s two things. The job of a manager is to create a mentality and an environment that’s about teamwork and achieving something together and then there’s the playing style.

I think I have a lot of similarities to Marcelo in terms of the aggressiveness, the intensity and the run performances. I’m not man-to-man, I’m more zonal and ball-orientated and with the ball I have a few other tactical ideas, but I think transforming the group because of the way they act, behave and think on the field won’t be a huge 180 degree transfer.

Jesse Marsch – Head Coach Leeds United

When Marsch was manager of RB Salzberg back in 2020 he gave an interview with SkySports. In the interview he discussed the importance of listening to the players and their ideas. Marsch suggested that the more players feel listened too and respected the more they will ‘run through a wall’ for the team and the manager.

Marsch also stated:

I believe in young players 100 per cent.

Jesse Marsch to Sky Sports in 2020

The squad that Marsch has inherited is one of the youngest in the Premier League . They have an average age of just 25.5 years. Only four Premier League clubs have a lower average age.

Marsch v Bielsa – Style of play

Under Bielsa, Leeds were mostly known for utilising a 4-1-4-1 or 3-3-1-3 formation. However, Leeds’ formation would adapt to their opponents, due to the man-marking system. We saw this with Luke Ayling and Son Hueng-Min in Gameweek 27. Ayling was tasked with man-marking the Spurs midfielder and as such he followed him all over the pitch. In doing this the Leeds’ formation was constantly broken down. Marsch however, prefers a zonal approach to marking which should improve the Leeds structure.

There are however similarities in the style of play of the managers.

Both Bielsa and Marsch like to move the ball forwards quickly. To make this possible, Marsch focuses on ‘verticality’ – moving the ball through the centre of the pitch quickly and with few passes.

This means under Marsch the ball will likely be moved forwards directly to a striker. This could mean less play on the wings where Raphinha is usually found.

At other points Marsch’s Leeds will look to break down the oppositions lines by passing out from the back to a midfielder and then directly up to a striker just outside the penalty box. This is a system that could benefit Patrick Bamford greatly when he returns from injury, making him an attractive option when available.


The new manager will likely encourage high-risk/high-reward passes in a way we didn’t necessarily see under Bielsa. At previous teams he instructed players to run into the box and receive a through ball beyond the centre back. The receiving player will be told to get to the byline and cross the ball for arriving teammates.

One area that Marsch and Bielsa are likely to be similar is in their use of a ‘pivot’ player like Kalvin Phillips, when fit, to build-up play. However, in Marsch’s Leeds we may see two deep midfielder, rather than one. This is different to Bielsa who mostly played Phillips with two players ahead of him.

The change to two deep midfielders should improve the defensive position of Leeds offering more security to defensive picks in FPL. However, injuries to key players like Phillips and Liam Cooper could make personal in this area of the pitch difficult.

Jesse Marsch – FPL assets

With Leeds playing twice in Double Gameweek 28 FPL managers will be hoping for a quick turnaround in their fortunes.

Midfielder Raphinha is the most popular pick from Leeds in FPL. He is owned by 15.6% of the game. After that Stuart Dallas is the most popular pick at just 3.1% owned. Raphinha has returned just one goal in the last six Gameweeks and so managers invested in him will be hoping that Marsch can transform Leeds.

Raphinha’s set piece threat, as well as Marsch high reward strategy could be really positive for Raphina who is historically one of the most forward thinking players in the Leeds squad. However, we will have to see how the direct play to the striker impacts Raphinha. It is possible he could play up top.

If Marsch does play with two defensive midfielders in a zonal marking style this should allow Raphinha more defensive protection. Making quick paced runs and balls into the box from the Brazilian more likely.

The addition of another defensive midfielder could put the Leeds’ defence back on the FPL menu. During the 2020/21 season FPL managers were heavily invested in the Leeds defence. Players like goalkeeper Illan Meslier and defenders Stuart Dallas and Luke Ayling were all popular picks. This season the Leeds’ defence has kept just three clean sheets, the worst in the league alongside Watford. They have also conceded the most goals with 60. In more recent times Leeds have no clean sheets in the last six Gameweeks and in that period have conceded 23 goals.

Courtesy of the Fantasy Football Scout members area

FPL managers will need to see a dramatic improvement in these numbers before risking a Leeds defender in FPL.


Unfortunately Marsch’s arrival may have come too close to the Double Gameweek for managers to want to invest in the Leeds defence. However, managers should keep a close eye on the defence under Marsch ahead of the run in.

In the continued absence of Bamford, Rodrigo could be a option for Marsch’s attacking style of play. However, even with the direct style of play Marsch usually deploys, Raphinha still looks to be the safest pick for Leeds both for the Double Gameweek and beyond.

Community Chatter

According to The Other 14‘s goals scored table Raphinha looks an attractive option in FPL. The table highlights the goals scored by players at clubs outside the big six.

in his recent tweet the FPL Trueman is backing a change in fortunes for Leeds under Marsch. He thinks Raphinha will continue to be a good pick under Marsch.

However, FPL Psychology disagrees thinking the new manager makes Raphinha a less attractive option. However he is keeping the Brazilian for Double Gameweek 28.

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