LONDON (AFP) – Leeds manager Jesse Marsch suffered a 1-0 defeat at Leicester in his first game in charge of the Premier League strugglers.
Marsch has been hired to save Leeds from relegation after replacing Marcelo Bielsa. But he was unable to spark an immediate improvement in Leeds’ fortunes as Harvey Barnes bagged the second half winner in his 100th Premier League appearance.
Defeat was cruel on Marsch’s side, who dominated for long periods, but Leeds have lost their last five games and sit just two points above the relegation zone. Marsch is just the second American to take charge of a Premier League club after Bob Bradley’s brief spell at Swansea in 2016.
Marsch, dismissed by RB Leipzig in December after a disappointing five-month spell, has a massive job on his hands to change perceptions while keeping Leeds afloat.
Bielsa was revered by Leeds supporters after masterminding their club’s long-awaited return to the Premier League.
Marsch nearly enjoyed a dream start when Daniel James forced a good save from Kasper Schmeichel early on. Former Leeds keeper Schmeichel was forced into action again moments later to repel Jack Harrison’s effort. Bielsa was famous for his curious habit of sitting on a bucket during games, but Marsch was a complete contrast as he urged his players on while constantly moving around his technical area.
Leeds fans sung about Bielsa throughout the match, but Marsch’s name was also chanted by the travelling hordes during their team’s promising start. Rodrigo shot over after Harrison’s pass gave him a sight of goal, while the Spaniard also appealed in vain for a penalty following Caglar Soyuncu’s challenge.
Leeds hadn’t kept a clean-sheet since November and once again they were exposed at the back as Barnes put Leicester ahead against the run of play in the 67th minute.
Barnes played a one-two with Kelechi Iheanacho before guided a composed finish past Meslier from inside the area.