Following his team’s 1-1 home draw against likely relegation candidates Everton, Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch threw praise upon his squad’s progress, while questioning the tactics of their over-matched visitors.
In every statistical category, Marsch’s Leeds dominated their Merseyside visitors on Tuesday night, however the game still somehow ended as a 1-1 draw, with Everton having more reason for disappointment after a potential winner midway through the second half was whistled back for offside.
The game featured the high-energy style that has become associated with Marsch-coached teams, however he noted the struggle against his opponents’ game management, which regularly put a stop to the temp he was trying to maintain.
“For me it wasn’t frenetic enough,” Marsch lamented in his post-game comments. “There were too many pauses in the match, with Everton taking forever on goal kicks, on throw-ins and all of these different things.”
“Clearly they wanted to take the energy out of Elland Road,” he stated.
Leeds held 70% of possession throughout the 90 minutes and outshot their opponents by a 14 to seven margin, but still were rather fortunate to earn a point against a resilient and opportunistic opponent that is already in survival mode just a few games into the season.
Marsch did admit that this is a hurdle his squad will often face in league play; while Leeds are by no means one of Premier League powerhouses, they will regularly play against under-threat teams whose top-flight status will ultimately depend on slowing down the opposition and grabbing points through any means necessary.
“We also have to understand that it was a dangerous game for Everton,” he posited. “They stuck to the way that they wanted to play, and the point [for us] is OK.”
Turning to his own squad, while the game is surely a letdown from their recent 3-0 thrashing of erstwhile league heavyweights Chelsea, the former Red Bull trainee expressed a notable optimism about the overall direction of his team, after only five games played in the new season.
“It was a spirited game and I really liked the way that our team played,” Marsch beamed. “We are developing in a really good way [and] I really like our guys.”
“We were not perfect, but we put a lot into it and we’re learning and getting better. From where I stand, I’m really proud to be their coach.”
He later elaborated, “I see a group that is clear with their tactics, with their mentality, that has real desire and real belief. I think there [is] a lot of intelligence and a lot of quality and a lot of really good mentality.”
The draw left Leeds in fifth place in the Premier League standings, although with several games in the current midweek round still left to be played. They are back in action on Saturday at Brentford.