Leeds boss Jesse Marsch admits it’s ‘hard to be friendly’ with other managers

Marsch will take charge of his sixth game as Leeds boss on Saturday at relegation rivals Watford.

Jesse Marsch is chasing his third win as Leeds head coach (Isaac Parkin/PA)

By Mark Walker, PA Sport

Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch has admitted his competitive nature can make it difficult for him to befriend rival managers.

The 48-year-old American has had a tough baptism in English football as he battles to preserve Leeds’ top-flight status having replaced Marcelo Bielsa in February.

Marsch, who will take charge of his sixth game as Leeds boss on Saturday at relegation rivals Watford, said the mutual respect and friendship shared by Premier League managers can be at odds with his desire to win.

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When asked about his new managerial environment, the former New York Red Bulls and Salzburg boss said: “I would say congenial, maybe too congenial for me.

“But I appreciate that the manager, the respect – I call it a shared misery – and the respect for that shared misery is pretty strong here in England.

“We had Adrian Heath in the US, he coached at Orlando and then he coached in Minnesota and he was always really good after the match to say ‘come and have a beer’.

“And I hesitantly did it, and found it incredibly rewarding. I want to acknowledge the work that other people do. I do respect and appreciate the work that other people do in this business.

Jesse Marsch is a big admirer of Watford boss Roy Hodgson, pictured (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It’s hard for me to sometimes be friendly with competitors because in my mind I want to not like them.

“But when I wind up liking them, I think usually the respect grows. But I like the motivation, when I am driven to want to beat someone.”

The level of hospitality that will be afforded to Marsch by Watford boss Roy Hodgson after Saturday’s crunch relegation clash at Vicarage Road remains to be seen.

Hodgson’s side, second-bottom in the table, can close to within five points of Leeds with victory and have a game in hand.

It's hard for me to sometimes be friendly with competitors because in my mind I want to not like them

Jesse Marsch

But Marsch made clear his respect for the 74-year-old former England manager.

“I have watched him for years,” Marsch said. “In a lot of different places, he has been with the national team and has had an incredible career.

“The passion he still has at his age is something to admire. I don’t know what I’ll be doing (at his age) because one year in a manager’s life can feel like 10.

“I have so much respect for the career he’s had and what he has accomplished in his career, no doubt.”

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After recent wins against Norwich and Wolves, Leeds’ bid to climb further away from relegation trouble met with frustration last week when they were held 1-1 at home by Southampton.

Watford have lost their last five league games at home, but Marsch added: “They are a talented group, have a lot of one-v-one players.

“I know Watford are a team towards the bottom and are fighting relegation, but I still think Roy Hodgson has done a good job with them.

“They are disciplined, organised and it won’t be an easy match for us.”


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