How will Raphinha and Leeds’ FPL assets fare under new boss Jesse Marsch?

From murderball to ‘Mericaball: Marcelo Bielsa’s departure from Leeds United has preceded the appointment of Jesse Marsch as the club’s new manager.

The former Red Bull company man, who has spent time as the head coach of the sporting franchise’s New York, Salzburg and Leipzig teams, is tasked with keeping his new troops in the Premier League after a run that has seen the Whites take just one point from their last six matches.

More importantly for us Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, can he reinvigorate Rafinha (£6.5m) and co as FPL assets?

Ahead of Leeds’ Double Gameweek 28, we take a look at Marsch’s tactics and management style and ask what we can expect from the 48-year-old American.

THE HISTORY

After an unremarkable playing career and a stint as an assistant with the US national team, Marsch was named as the head coach of Montreal Impact in 2011.

Leading the Canadian side to a mid-place finish in their first Major League Soccer (MLS) season before departing by mutual consent, he resurfaced in the American top flight for a successful spell with New York Red Bulls. Marsch won the Supporters Shield (the annual award given to the MLS team with the best regular-season record) in his first campaign and eventually departed for Europe in 2018, enjoying a year as assistant to Ralf Rangnick at RB Leipzig.

Twice winning the league and cup double with Red Bull Salzburg in his two years in Austria, Marsch returned to Leipzig as head coach in July 2021.

He was gone five months later, with some mixed results ending in a parting of ways in December and the German outfit languishing in 11th place in the Bundesliga.

MANAGERIAL STYLE

“Evolution, not revolution” seems to be the Leeds board’s thinking behind Marsch’s appointment, which is quite apt given Bielsa’s Darwinist approach to team news.

An aggressive press and lots and lots of running were characteristics of Bielsa’s Leeds and his successor favors a similar approach, albeit with a few tweaks.

Less man-marking and more concentrated zonal coverage is one technical difference that may be greeted by a collective Partridge shrug by FPL managers but Marsch’s attitude to winning possession back high with a view to getting shots off as quickly as possible is more exciting-sounding.

“Sprinting, sprinting together, 100%. And when you win the ball, not thinking about possession but how quickly you can score a goal” – Jesse Marsch, speaking to the Coaches’ Voice in February 2021

“If you watch Marcelo Bielsa with Leeds, he is a big believer of against the ball but he does a lot of man-marking across the field.

“So, you could stop a game at any moment with Leeds when they’re against the ball and you could almost say ‘alright, every player is matched up with an opponent and they’re playing 1v1’. We call our pressing ball-orientated.

“We believe that when we attack and attack all the way and we commit to winning balls, that we’re going to outnumber opponents in spaces on the field which is going to increase our chances of winning the ball. And then, we often leave players on the opposite side of the field open.

“Then when we win balls, we’re always trying to play forward and attack, and go as aggressively and quickly as we can to goal, because we feel that the opponent is disorganised in those moments.” — Jesse Marsch

Scoring goals and creating chances (Leeds are sixth this season for shots attempted) generally wasn’t an issue during Bielsa’s tenure but conceding them was, especially during 2021/22.

Marsch appears to be cut from the same cloth.

Salzburg scored an average of over three goals per game under the American, while even Leipzig, despite dropping to 11th in the table by the time Marsch left, found the net at a rate of two goals per match during his spell in charge.

However, Leipzig shipped 1.5 goals per fixture under the new Leeds boss in all competitions – not nearly as many as what the Whites have been letting in this season but excessive for a side that had finished second in the previous campaign.

“Looking at Leipzig’s 10-game rolling average of expected goals (xG) for and against, you can see that their chance creation remained strong after Nagelsmann’s departure, averaging chances worthy of two goals on average per 90 minutes across Marsch’s time in Germany.

“The issue was at the other end of the field, where the quality of chances conceded crept higher under Marsch. When Nagelsmann departed, Leipzig’s 10-game average was conceding chances worth just shy of one goal per game. By the time Marsch left, that number crept to closer to 1.5 xG conceded per game — a notable increase.

“This defensive output is intrinsically linked to the style of play Marsch looked to implement. When the high press works well, you can suffocate the opposition. However, if the opposition manages to play through your press, you leave space behind and risk conceding high-quality chances. – Phil Hay, the Athletic

A look at RB’s results under Marsch provides a neat summation of his managerial style: there were emphatic 6-0, 4-0 and 4-1 wins on the domestic front against strugglers Hertha Berlin, Stuttgart and Greuther Furth but a 4-1 home reverse to Bayern Munich and a 6-3 loss to Manchester City in the Champions League.

“The players really feel a power to the sense that there’s a togetherness on the pitch, tactically and mentally. And that power frees them to be their best and go after games, frees them, even in the best games against Bayern Munich or Liverpool, to show their best version of themselves.

“Now, in some of these games, we’ve given up too many goals – in almost all of them! So we’re always trying to manage our aggressiveness in the right ways. But, at the end, this is who we are. This is what I believe in.” – Jesse Marsch speaking to the Coaches Voice

MORE ROTATION?

One of the many positives about Bielsa is that he rarely handed us too many shocks when it came to naming his starting XIs, even going as far as naming his entire line-up on more than one occasion.

We might have to get used to a bit more tinkering from Marsch, however, who previously spoke of his fondness for rotation in busy periods.

“I rotate players a lot, I believe in a big roster.

“It’s important to rotate, have fresh legs, get the balance right within the team and give young players a chance to play – it’s the only way they can develop.” – Jesse Marsch, speaking to the Coaches Voice

Leeds’ senior squad is on the thin side at present so, given Marsch’s comments about rotation and “giving young players a chance”, it’ll be interesting to see if Joe Gelhardt (£4.6m) can get more of a sustained look-in than he did under Bielsa, particularly with Patrick Bamford (£7.7m) out for the forseeable future.

FAVORED TACTICS

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