Leeds United: What went wrong for Jesse Marsch, and who might take his place

After Jesse Marsch was fired, Leeds United is searching for a third manager in less than a year.

The American assisted Leeds in avoiding relegation on the final day of the previous campaign after taking over for Marcelo Bielsa.

But after 20 games this season, they are only one point above the relegation zone, and after Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Nottingham Forest, Marsch was fired on Monday.

How come Marsch failed? Who is most qualified to succeed? And what must they do to retain Leeds in the top division?

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Where did Marsch make a mistake?
Because he was different from his predecessor Marcelo Bielsa, for some of his admirers, it was clear from the start.

Even though the club’s Premier League standing was dismal with a dozen games remaining when the Argentine was fired, the Bielsa faithful found it tough to accept Marsch.

Some people were adamant that an American coach would not be successful, but the majority—especially after he helped Brentford escape on the final day—kept their doubts but were receptive to the idea that he had earned the right to lead this team this season.

Losing Raphinha to Barcelona and Kalvin Phillips to Manchester City were setbacks, but the club showed their support for their player by using the funds to reinvest in Tyler Adams, Marc Roca, Rasmus Kristensen, Brenden Aaronson, Luis Sinisterra, and Wilfried Gnonto.

The team might have been stronger. But as the games went on, the restricted approach Marsch was attempting to use failed to generate reliable performances, appealing football, or outcomes.


Marsch was a charming, intelligent, and well-traveled man whose complex management language occasionally baffled his fans, who were failing to connect theory to reality with increasing frequency.

Similar to Bielsa, he had to deal with serious injuries to seasoned players, most notably to Stuart Dallas, Patrick Bamford, and Adam Forshaw. The club’s decision to forgo the signing of a seasoned left-back to challenge Junior Firpo, who struggled with form and health, seemed short-sighted.

With a sensational 3-0 victory over Chelsea in August, there were glimmers of what might have been. The fans had turned against him and the board after terrible performances and results against Leicester City and at home to Fulham, but just two more league victories were to come, including a late winner at Liverpool in October on a night that many believed would be his last in command.

Aston Villa’s 2-1 loss to United three weeks ago put them in a relegation battle, which Marsch claimed they were not involved in after what he called “a complete performance” in that match. Despite the odds, he managed to survive, and the board granted him the World Cup break to instill his footballing philosophy in his squad.

Different fans had distinct perspectives. The team, which by January had a record signing in Georginio Rutter, Austrian defender Max Wober, and Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie on loan, appeared beyond his ability to coach after almost a year in command.

In the end, the club’s status in the top division, a substantial investment, and a planned takeover of Andrea Radrizzani by minority shareholders San Francisco 49ers Enterprises were all in jeopardy.

Therefore, following the defeat at Nottingham Forest, prompt action was taken. Marsch was informed in person during his final training session at the club’s Thorp Arch Academy by chief executive Angus Kinnear and director of football Victor Orta.

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