Leeds manager Jesse Marsch admits last season’s relegation battle was “extremely stressful”.
A pre-season trip Down Under for the American and his squad – which now includes fellow midfielders Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams – has been more laid back. As well as a few friendlies, the team went surfing and got up close with the kangaroos at Perth Zoo.
But with the end of the trip to Australia, expectations are rising for the three Americans. A slow start could spell trouble for Marsch, while Elland Road fans will be eager to see what the club got for the $53m transfer fee spent on the USA internationals.
Leeds host Wolverhampton in the season opener on August 6 and have been busy bringing in new faces after selling playmaker Raphinha to Barcelona for $60m and midfielder Kalvin Phillips to Manchester City for $55m. millions of dollars.
“Of course we lost two great players but I think we added a lot of quality and we added more depth,” Marsch said ahead of their final game of the trip, a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace in Perth. Friday.
“It won’t make it any easier – the league is amazing, it’s amazing, and it’s a pleasure to be a part of it. It keeps you challenged, it keeps you honest, it makes sure you never overdo it. overtake you.
Marsch, 48, replaced Marcelo Bielsa at the end of February and it wasn’t until the season finale – a 2-1 win over Brentford – that Leeds’ place in the Premier League was secured for the 2022-23 season. .
The new Americans have played for Marsch before – Aaronson, 21, at Red Bull Salzburg, and Adams, 23, at New York Red Bulls and then in Germany with Leipzig. Like Phillips, Adams is a defensive midfielder, while Aaronson fills a playmaking role.
It will take some time to gel, although the season is only two weeks away.
“With each passing game we understand each other better and better,” Aaronson told club media after a 1-0 loss to Aston Villa in Brisbane last Sunday. “We build chemistry, connections. This is what we need to start the season. There have been a lot of great games we’ve put together, but that’s just the finishing touches. It will come.
Aaronson, who cost Leeds $29million, showed good decision-making when he sent a pass to Patrick Bamford in the area for a first-half shot on goal against Villa.
Marsch praised Aaronson’s intelligence in understanding his tactics – noting he hadn’t been as confident when the New Jersey native moved to Austria in January 2021.
“When he arrived in Salzburg,” Marsch said, “the first training session, I thought, poof, he’s in over his head here, he’s going to have to adapt to the level of what’s going on. pass. And in two weeks, he was almost our best player. That’s his quality. Thanks to his intelligence, his desire, his hard work, he is able to apply his talents quite quickly, to adapt and to grow up.
“We will still need him. He will be an important player for us this year.”
The good news for Marsch is that he’s not starting from scratch. He played 12 games for the club last season, although the home stretch was “a very stressful time”.
“It’s a bit too early to start talking about the end goal of the season,” Marsch said ahead of a 2-1 win over A-League side Brisbane Roar, “but we would definitely think we can put together – with the new players that we have, with the existing process that we have – a season where we avoid putting ourselves in the situation that we were in towards the end of last year.”
Marsch also understands that there is pressure as an American manager. Bob Bradley only managed Swansea for 85 days in 2016. There was also David Wagner, a German-born former United States international who managed Huddersfield in the English Premier League from 2017 to 2019.
“The better I can do (manage),” Marsch said, “the more hopefully I can help the sport progress at home and give other American coaches an opportunity.”
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