JACK GAUGHAN: Leeds experience the wave of optimism as energetic boss Jesse Marsch reflects the frenzied atmosphere in the Elland Road stands in their 2-1 win over Wolves
- Leeds opened their Premier League campaign in style with victory over Wolves
- Jesse Marsch embodied the energy on his part after relentless demonstration on Elland Road
- Leeds manager has left his own mark on the side after the summer of change
- The Whites hope they will avoid another relegation battle this season
Like his demeanor, Jesse Marsch was already partying before a ball was kicked. The Leeds United manager turned on a crowd that didn’t need to be stoked and looked just like when the winner came in later in the afternoon, fists clenched and arms swinging.
And that was just a response to stepping back into the tech space after a three-month absence.
Marsch, a bundle of pent-up energy after a summer of change, saw Leeds play to his image, a bit of chaos theory – though not nearly as much as under predecessor Marcelo Bielsa – and a difference in defensive form. These aspects already existed during last semester’s dramatic breakout mission, but with a full preseason they feel more defined now.
Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch embodied his side’s boundless energy in Wolves’ victory
Rodrigo scored Leeds’ opening goal in the 2-1 win over Wolves in the season opener
They are certainly not perfect, with an equally reformed Wolves left unhappily with nothing, but the ripples of a wave appeared. And Leeds is best if there is one to drive. That was certainly the case on Saturday as, thanks to a strike from Rodrigo and an own goal from Rayan Ait-Nouri, Leeds started the season in style.
The sale of Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips has enabled Marsch to put his own stamp on this squad, with his former Red Bull Salzburg winger Brenden Aaronson taking the credit on his debut. Rasmus Kristensen, also bought from his old employers, improved on right back after a shaky start. Tyler Adams, who he briefly coached at RB Leipzig, patrolled the midfield. There is more to do, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Arnaud Kalimuendo next on the list to relieve the returning Patrick Bamford.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER REVIEWS
Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Meslier 7; Kristensen 6, Koch 6.5, Llorente 7, Struijk 7; Adams 6, Roca 7 (Greenwood 73min, 6); Aaronson 8 (Summerville 84), Rodrigo 7 (Klich 65, 7), Harrison 7; Bamford 7 (Gelhardt 84).
Booked: Adams, Harrison.
Scorers: Rodrigo 24, Ait-Nouri 74 (og).
Manager: Jesse Maarsch 7.
Wolves (4-2-3-1): Sat 6; Jonny 6, Kilman 6, Collins 6, Ait-Nouri 5; Dendoncker 6, Neves 7; Gibbs-White 5, Podence 7.5, Neto 7; Hee Chan 7 (Campbell 85).
Scorer: Potency 6.
Manager: Bruno Low 6.
Referee: Robert Jones 6.
Don’t put the idea that this is a Marsch team to the man himself. ‘I don’t like to say I, I, my. I like to say we and ours,’ he said. “It has never felt like our team. From day one, I consider every player as our player. No past player or I have robbed these guys (of others). I know it’s interpreted that way, but it’s about maximizing what we get out of everyone.
‘We are making progress. We were much better with the ball, the build-up and the phases. The second goal was a good example of how we want to play. At every stage I feel that we are growing. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I feel we are growing.’
Kristensen, who grew into the game after being blamed for Daniel Podence’s opener, explained that the atmosphere he labeled as “incredible, unbelievable” exceeded the high expectations people around the club had placed on him when he signed. . “It’s nothing compared to where I’ve played before – this surpasses everything,” said the Dane.
Marsch enjoys the different ways sporting director Victor Orta sells Leeds to potential signings. “Well, there’s the Premier League and then there’s Elland Road, right? We love it.
“Even during the recruitment process, when I spoke to the players who came in, it translated the feeling of what it means to play for this club. I knew because I knew history, but (at the same time) I didn’t know. I’ve had a crash course in what that means.
“If you’re listening to Victor at these meetings, and the way he can explain why it’s special and why certain people fit and need to come here, he’s an incredible recruiter. I look forward to that every time to see his spin on why they belong here.’
New signing Brenden Aaronson was instrumental in Marsch’s side winning goal
This, Leeds hopes, acts as a springboard for not getting caught up in the kind of scrap that nearly saw them tumble into the Championship. “Someone told me we only won four games here last year and that’s disappointing to hear,” said Marsch. “Our fans deserve better.”
Wolves are in transition themselves, dumping the back three that served them so well for a four and club captain Conor Coady looks like the cheater on Bruno Lage’s tactical shift. They attacked with more purpose and added cunning with the £35m signing of Goncalo Guedes of Valencia, which they should complete this week. Midfielder Leander Dendoncker thinks they need more bodies, with five players currently in the first team.
“Leeds brought in some fresh legs and towards the end we got a little tired,” said Dendoncker. “Until then we played the perfect game, but we just didn’t score.
“Our bank was young.”