Featured image courtesy of James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images
After Marcelo Bielsa's departure was met with widespread devastation - Leeds fans heartbroken by Bielsa leaving after such a special relationship had been formed - it didn't take long for a replacement to come in. Anyone replacing Marcelo Bielsa is going to have a tough gig on their hands, the Leeds fan base adamant that their Argentine cult hero should have stayed, but a new era will begin even with the Elland Road faithful still grieving over the man that restored Premier League football to The Whites after years in the wilderness.
His replacement has generated a lot of buzz on social media, ridiculing the new Leeds boss for his American roots over his managerial ability. Jesse Marsch is the new man in the dug-out at Elland Road, a bold decision by the Leeds hierarchy. Only two Americans have managed in the English game before Marsch's arrival, the likes of David Wagner for Huddersfield and the infamous Bob Bradley spell at Swansea. With Leeds sitting precariously above the drop zone, and with a popular manager just being axed, you have to commend the bravery of Marsch to throw himself into this challenge. It's even more commendable when you look over his recent managerial stints, a spell with RB Leipzig cut short after a few months with the American failing to deliver after Julien Nagelsmann left for Bayern Munich.
Before this failed stint in Germany, the 48-year-old manager was the face of other Red Bull owned franchises across the globe - managing both the New York Red Bulls and RB Salzburg in his native USA and further afield in Austria. Both saw success, Marsch winning MLS Coach of the Year in New York whilst delivering success in the Champions League with Salzburg. Jesse Marsch even nurtured talents such as Takumi Minamino during his time in Austria, scoring against Liverpool under the American before Jurgen Klopp decided to swoop for the Japanese forward. He's also a keen attacking coach, a manager not resting on his laurels. In 94 games at the RB Salzburg helm, 290 goals were scored. But, after failing to translate his success in the US and Austria to his time in the Bundesliga, could his time at Leeds also suffer a similar fate?
Regardless of his short stay in Germany before being appointed as Bielsa's successor, Jesse Marsch's initial reception when he sat down and talked to the Leeds media team was one of positivity even from the most vocal objectors to Bielsa's dismissal. The new Leeds head coach spoke of the honour of being chosen to manage such an esteemed club, citing the commitment of his first team players as a major strength from his initial overview of the squad at his disposal.
Far from coming in and ripping it all up, it sounds as if Marsch wants to come in and be one with what Leeds is as opposed to starting afresh. Leeds fans would have been pleasantly surprised by their new manager and his words, not the American stereotype they imagined he would be. Clearly a manager who has a clear philosophy and expectation of his players - Marsch mentioning the fight and desire of his side as an important attribute - any worried Leeds fans would have taken to their new head coach somewhat even if a slight hesitancy still remained. It's perfectly fine to talk the talk, results on the pitch will be Marsch's lasting legacy in a relegation battle.
A manager used to fighting near the top-end of the division with the trio of Red Bull owned clubs he's managed in the past, is he one who can propel Leeds out of their current predicament? With Marcelo Bielsa at the helm until the end of the season, would Leeds have turned their fortunes around?
Away from all these hypothetical questions, Jesse Marsch's first league game in charge of Leeds saw a lot of promise. The overall Leeds performance was very encouraging, the likes of Dan James and Jack Harrison on the front foot from minute one with the latter testing Schmeichel with a low shot early on. Leicester would give The Whites so much time and space, but as was the case with Bielsa in the dug-out, a crucial goal evaded Jesse Marsch's men.
A number of opportunities would go begging, a Rodrigo header from a corner kick stinging the palms of an ever busy Schmeichel in the Foxes net before Raphinha missed from point blank range after a well-worked move from Harrison. Even after missing countless chances and dominating proceedings, the familiar feeling of defeat would return for Marsch's unlucky side. After overcommitting from another attack, the ball was sprayed towards Harvey Barnes on the channel. Playing a quick one two with Kelechi Iheanacho, Harvey Barnes delicately placed a shot past Meslier for 1-0. With 19 shots on goal to Leicester's seven, Jesse Marsch's first game in charge ended in defeat but the performance was encouraging after so many dismal displays towards the end of Marcelo Bielsa's four year stay in Yorkshire.
Speaking after the narrow defeat to Brendan Rodgers' Leicester side, Jesse Marsch was keen to stress the importance of the performance over the end result. Marsch praised the stability shown by his side against The Foxes, further stating how impressed he was at how many of his own tactics had rubbed off on his players after a matter of days on the training ground after being unveiled as the new head coach.
The Leeds away fans could well have been against their new head coach, but even if a few chants directed towards Marcelo Bielsa were belted out during the match, the travelling contingent ensured that other chants were reserved for their new American head coach. A hardened and passionate bunch, their feelings towards Marcelo might not lessen but they understand the need to be 100% behind the new manager now. After such an encouraging display, it will be vital that results follow in due course in spite of Marsch's post-match thoughts.
With Jesse Marsch awaiting his Elland Road debut as manager, two home matches against Aston Villa and Norwich present winnable fixtures even with Steven Gerrard's men providing a tantalising display at the weekend against Southampton. The Saints also travel to Elland Road soon, with Watford away after a crucial six-pointer in the grand scheme of things.
After such heartbreak with Marcelo Bielsa leaving, an icon very much engrained within the city's fabric, here's hoping Jesse Marsch can be remembered for steering Leeds away from relegation trouble this season with a new future on the horizon under the former Leipzig man.