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Danny Mills Exclusive: Marsch Must Change Leeds Style

Danny Mills Exclusive: Marsch Must Change Leeds Style

Ex-Leeds United defender Danny Mills believes his former club’s new head coach Jesse Marsch must change the Whites’ style of play – in order to stave off the drop. Leeds parted company with Marcelo Bielsa after a six-game winless streak in the Premier League, during which they conceded 21 goals and lost five times. That poor run of form has left them 16th and just two points above the relegation zone, having played two more games than 17th-placed Everton and one more than 18th-placed Burnley. Mills is certain that, unless Leeds approach games differently under Marsch, they will continue to lose and end up back in the Championship.


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Changes Needed

Speaking exclusively to Genting, Mills said: “I think [Leeds] will have to change their style of playing without a doubt because if they keep doing what they’re doing, they’re going to get beat every single week, and they’re going to go down. 

“Jesse Marsch will change it – I almost see it as a positive, and there’s two big positives in this for Jesse Marsch. 

“Most teams down at the bottom, when a new manager comes in, the first thing he says is they’re not fit enough, when you can’t say that at Leeds – that’s not something you’ve got to worry about. 

“That excuse is out the window. Marsch could almost go the other way and say, ‘These players are fit enough, so whatever I ask them to do is not going to be a problem physically.’ 

“We know that he likes to play a high press and go and close people down, so that’s not too dissimilar to what Leeds do now. 

“But he might shore it up in the middle of a park, maybe with a double pivot, or a little bit more protection in front of the back four.

“Some of the players might be a little bit relieved and say, ‘Okay we quite like this. Yes, we still have the opportunity to go and press high, but also we’ve got a little bit of security at the back, and a little bit more organisation, and that makes us feel more comfortable, and because we are supremely fit, we can use all our energy going forward, and then just be organised.’

“Defending is the easy part of the game. It’s much easier to stop goals than it is to score goals, and that’s organisation, working on the training ground. 

“I think if Jesse Marsch adds that and continues with his principles of a higher press, keeping the ball, working hard, the players might actually be relieved that they’re not having to go man for man all over the pitch, they’re not having to play murder ball on a Thursday, which is incredibly intense.

“I think if he gets off to a good start and gets the players onside in the first game or so, I think this could be a good appointment for Leeds.”

Manchester Derby Preview - Danny Mills

Manchester Derby Preview - Danny Mills

Bielsa Praise

Mills also hailed the outgoing Bielsa for the impact he had at Leeds, but believes the Argentine’s refusal to deviate from his tactical principles was ultimately his downfall.

”Leeds fans hero-worship Marcelo Bielsa because of what he’s done for the club, and rightly so,” he continued. “He conducted himself brilliantly. 

“The first season in the Premier League was brilliant. His style of play took so many teams by surprise and they won a lot of games. 

“This season, he’s missed Kalvin Phillips, who has always been the glue in the team, even when they were in the Championship. When he wasn’t in the team there was a huge chasm from box to box in midfield. 

“[Patrick] Bamford has been out for a huge amount of time. Liam Cooper has been missing. 

“If you haven’t got Liam Cooper, the leader in defence, you haven’t got your midfield lynchpin in Kalvin Phillips, and you haven’t got your striker that sets the tone, then surely you have to adapt your football, it would be foolish not to. 

“When the man-to-man system works, it’s outstanding, but teams started to work them out this season. 

“Pep Guardiola did it fantastically well at the Etihad, 3-0 up after 30 minutes, Leeds going man-to-man. Phil Foden and Bernado Silva pulled Leeds all over the place. 

“Even at 3-0 down, Leeds kept doing the same thing. It gets to a point where that becomes madness because you’re not going to beat Manchester City 4-3 or 5-4, when you’re 3-0 down after 20 minutes and you’ve only had two or three touches of the ball at times.

 
“When you’ve got a team like Leeds that play in a unique way, and you’re missing at least three key players within that, to not change – to have that stubbornness about your principles, I think it then starts to border on being a little bit naïve at times. 

“The best managers in the world, the managers that win things, adapt and change. They still have their principles, and they stick to them, but they tweak things. 

“You cannot go man for man with Liverpool. You cannot go man for man with Manchester City because they are better than you, and they have better players than you, so you have to find a different way to win.”

But Mills thinks his old side do have enough quality in the squad to stay in the Premier League, citing the return of Phillips and increased rotation as key factors in Leeds’ survival bid.

“Listening to Jesse Marsch, he's already said that he will have a bigger squad and he will rotate a little bit more to keep people fresh, to keep people hungry,” he explained. 

“If they can get Kalvin Phillips back sooner, I think that will be absolutely huge. We’ve seen how important he is in the middle of the park. 

“I think Leeds have got enough quality within their squad to get themselves out of this, they just need to play slightly more pragmatically – they need to stop shipping four or five goals every week.”

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V: 1.14.1 All rights reserved. August 2021
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