Tthe mood in the room was hot, bordering on rebellious. It was January 2015, and the New York Red Bulls decided to hold a meeting at City Hall with season ticket holders, a decision they soon began to regret. Ten days earlier, the club had fired its very popular coach, Mike Petke. Now, on a frosty Friday night in Harrison, New Jersey, about 300 angry Red Bulls fans wanted to know why.

Although the meeting was supposed to take place off the record and was not invited by the media, footage of the chaotic evening quickly hit the net. General manager Marc de Granpre and sporting director Ali Curtis were ruthlessly disgusting and interrupted at every turn. “You guys don’t know anything!” One fan shouted at them. Some fans demanded a refund for the season ticket. Others simply wanted to express their contempt for the decision to fire Petka, the man who led Red Bull to one of the greatest successes in their history, and replace him with an uninvented young coach named Jesse Marsh.

For Marsh, who got the job 10 days earlier, even though he had minimal coaching experience in the Premier League, it was the scariest introduction imaginable. At a time when insults flew across the hall and rabid New Yorkers vowed never to visit the stadium again, Marsh just sat quietly and listened. Eventually, it was his turn to grab the microphone and speak, and one fact immediately became fascinatingly clear. He enjoyed himself.

“Believe it or not, but I love that passion,” Marsh said. “There are a lot of clubs in this league where none of this will happen. I know how honored I am to be the coach of this team. I’m very happy to be here. “

“You have one year,” one fan shouted at him.

“You know what?” The march fired back. “I’ll take whatever I can get, honestly.” This line caused some laughter, and as he continued to speak, Marsh began to conquer the room. In a sense, in these situations he was always in his element: communicating, communicating, working with the crowd, articulating his vision. He reassured fans who are afraid of radical perestroika.

“I’m not here to view everything 180 degrees,” he said. “I’m not here to take away the club’s identity.” Three years later, when Marsh left, leading the club to two Champions League titles and a Champions League semi-final, it is fair to say that he has left his mark.

Jesse Marsh received 57 yellow cards as a player – last Saturday he received one on the Cow Line as Leeds manager. Photo: Lewis Story / Getty Images

So, anyway, it’s all a matter of imitating a conscientious club legend and defeating skeptical fans: yes, Jesse Marsh was there and did it. The next 16 days and four games will determine whether Leeds United’s right decision will fire the coveted Marcel Biels.

As Marsh prepares for the biggest battle of his managerial career, it should be remembered that despite all the doubts and ridicule he caused in the first weeks of English football, with all the stress and tension that awaits him over the next two weeks, you suspect that’s exactly how he likes it.

“A lot of whining, a lot of whining and moaning,” is how his former Chicago Fire teammate Josh Wolf once described the style of play of the March. March, an angry and physically defensive midfielder who scored 57 yellow cards, was the kind of guy who would go looking for scrap if he didn’t have one on hand. Quarrels and fights in the dressing room were commonplace. So it would be with coach Marsh, who built his personal brand to taste for constructive confrontation.

The clip from Jesse Marsh’s team talk at RB Salzburg went viral for its colorful mix of German and English.
The clip from Jesse Marsh’s team talk at RB Salzburg went viral for its colorful mix of German and English. Photo: YouTube

Three years ago there was a widespread video in which Marsh shouted at his Red Bull Salzburg players during the Champions League game at Anfield. “It’s not a fucking friendship game [It is not a fucking friendly]! ” he spoke a fascinating mix of German and English. “This is a fucking Champions League game [game]!! We have to [we must] stay tuned! ” Admiration for the speech of the March won many fans, but not everyone understood its content. He scolded his team for not fouling more Liverpool players. He wanted them to be vindictive.

Already, if you compare his first eight games in Leeds with 26 games led by Bielsa this season, you can see that elements of this style are beginning to penetrate. The number of fouls per game increased from 14 to 17. The level of ownership decreased from 54% to 50%. Most importantly, the villainous defenses were strengthened, Bielsa’s human marking system was abolished on zonal protection, and the results began to come. As the March took on Leeds ’key figures, it shows that they are the top half in defense and attack, even if they are 4-0 scored at home in Manchester City – the same team that scored six goals past the ill-fated March of Belarus team Leipzig this season – was a reminder of the weaknesses that remain.

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Certainly, the March time in Leipzig feels like a mistake on both sides, a team that has gradually evolved into a possession-led side under Julian Nagelsman, hiring a coach who was still tied to the doctrine of counterattack and counter-press. Leeds feels more fit, a working class club with a permanent siege mentality and a keen ear for the little things. “I like being an outsider,” he said shortly after arriving. “I don’t know why. I identify with that. ” The real question, as Leeds face an unenviable roster of matches with Arsenal away on Sunday, then Chelsea and Brighton at home and a visit to Brantford on the last day, is whether that will be enough to support them. Fourth from the bottom, two points ahead of Everton, but having played the game more, the fate of Leeds is no longer in their own hands, like the March.

Despite all the criticism of his appointment, Marsh knows best that it is the victories and points that will determine him. Inspiring or annoying? Charismatic or respectful? A visionary or just a person who loves the sound of his own voice? “If we lose, you’ll hate me,” Marsh told those hostile Red Bulls fans seven years ago. “If we win, maybe you’ll learn to put up with me.”

Join Jonathan Lew on May 24 as he leads a group with Andy Cole and others to discuss the role of black British footballers both on and off the field. I’ll book a ticket here.

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