Following a thrilling encounter at Elland Road on Saturday which saw Leeds United come from behind to beat Bournemouth 4-3, manager Jesse Marsch was quick to defend his footballing philosophy when it was questioned by BBC Match of the Day host Gary Lineker.
A poor first half performance by the home side, especially defensively, saw them lucky to reach half-time with the scoreline only at 1-2.
The aggressive determination displayed by Leeds in the second half, however, was justly rewarded as the side mounted a storming comeback – one capped off with a lifted finish from promising youngster Crysencio Summerville in the game’s 84th minute.
In a post-match interview with Lineker on Match of the Day, Marsch strongly praised the mentality of his players and the importance of belief when asked about how the match unfolded:
“First half wasn’t our best, we tried to change a couple things during the half and then we made some changes at half-time and we believed we could still win the match.”
When pushed further on this point by Lineker, Marsch once again stressed the “real belief and real commitment” of his squad.
Lineker then questioned Marsch’s tactics, asking whether the aggressive, high-press style he demands from his team has the potential to prove detrimental against opponents who frequently employ counter-attacks, like Bournemouth did against Leeds on Saturday.
Marsch immediately disagreed with this suggestion.
He claimed: “all the times we give up goals we’re being too passive and not aggressive enough so it’s converse to what you may think. It’s about tactical discipline, understanding roles, and committing to them at the highest level.”
For Marsch, belief not only in individual ability but also in the tactical system he deploys is of critical importance. Whilst this commitment to a particular playing style is admirable, there is no doubt it has its shortcomings, particularly in a defensive sense as Leeds often look disorganized and haphazard at the back. Aggressive, high-intensity football is exciting and will produce goals, but it has to be supplemented by defensive solidity to be sustainable in the Premier League.