Who is Jesse Marsch? All you need to know about the man tipped to replace Bielsa at Leeds United

Jesse Marsch at RB Salzburg on Dec 10 2019
Jesse Marsch during his spell at RB Salzburg Credit: PA
  • Following the sacking of Marcelo Bielsa, Peter Hampshire profiles Jesse Marsch, the man set to replace him as manager of Leeds United

They say, in football, that a successful playing career does not automatically provide the basis for success in management.

Leeds United fans will hope, equally, that a relatively unheralded career on the field does not necessarily mean failure in the dugout.

Jesse Marsch – the man tipped to replace Marcelo Bielsa at Elland Road – enjoyed 14 years in the professional game in the United States. But it's fair to say that he remains a relative unknown on these shores.

The now 48-year-old played more than 300 times for DC United, Chicago Fire and Chivas USA, winning three league titles and four U.S. Open Cup titles along the way, as well as earning two caps for the United States national team.

But it was as a manager that Marsch started to have more of an impact – literally in the case of his stint in Canadian football, where he oversaw a 4-2 friendly win over Jose Mourinho's Chelsea while in charge at Montreal Impact.

Having gained his UEFA Pro Licence in Scotland, Marsch was named MLS Coach of the Year in his first season at New York Red Bulls, where he spent four years, before moving to Red Bull Salzburg in 2019.

And under his guidance, Salzburg broke the record for the most goals scored in Austria's top division, including a remarkable run of 76 goals in just 23 outings.

Austrian football expert Simon Clark said: "His time at Salzburg was incredibly successful and coincided with the club's first foray into the Champions League group stages.

"The football was sensational, attacking wise. However, the big criticism of Jesse has always been his defensive tactics and, at Salzburg, I always felt the mantra was more 'if you score three, we'll score four', rather than a solid defence.

"I'm very interested to see how he does in the Premier League, but I can't help but feel Leeds, in their current state, is not a perfect fit.

"With a leaky defence and in a relegation battle, it's definitely going to be a challenge for Jesse to have an immediate impact."

Marsch in charge of Red Bull Salzburg against Liverpool in the Champions League. Credit: PA

Having left Salzburg, in April 2021 Marsch moved to RB Leipzig in Germany, where he had already served as assistant coach to Ralf Rangnick – the current Manchester United manager.

But it was a difficult time for the American, as his wife battled breast cancer and he was forced to manage the club from his kitchen while suffering from Covid-19.

He left Leipzig after a 2-1 defeat to Union Berlin in December amid condemnation of his failure to encourage his players to adopt his full-throttle, pressing tactics.

However, having seen his spell at Leipzig first-hand, Deutsche Welle journalist Oli Moody believes that Marsch could follow in Bielsa's footsteps.

He said: "Even though things never really clicked in Leipzig, Marsch is still seen as a talented coach, whose teams play exciting football.

"After several years under Marcelo Bielsa, Leeds seem like a team that should fit to Marsch's style of play. Whether he's got it in him to lift the mood after a terrible run of form is another matter though."

Waiting for the right kind of project, Marsch had job offers from five or six leagues since the turn of the year and toured England in January, supporting mentor Ralf Rangnick at Manchester United on the way.

Jesse Marsch: Profile

  • Born: 8 November 1973 in Wisconsin, USA.

  • Playing career: DC United (15 appearances; four goals), Chicago Fire (200 appearances; 19 goals), Chivas USA (106 appearances; eight goals).

  • Teams managed: Montreal Impact (2011-12), New York Red Bulls (2015-18), Red Bull Salzburg (2019-21), RB Leipzig (2021).

  • Trophies won: MLS Supporters' Shield (2015), Austrian Bundesliga (2020, 2021), Austrian Cup (2020, 2021)

He has been involved in tussles with English sides as far back as the 2010 World Cup, when he was tasked with scouting England in his role as USA National Team assistant before a 1-1 draw.

Heading into a dressing room at Leeds with one point from their last six games, Marsch believes his biggest learning point from Leipzig was to stick up for what he believes in.

If his appointment is confirmed, he will start life as Leeds' manager at Leicester City on Saturday.

His first game under the lights at Elland Road will be at home to Aston Villa the following Thursday. It remains to be seen whether he'll receive the kind of warm reception from fans that Bielsa enjoyed to the end.