On Saturday, at around 4.30pm, I went on Twitter for my 143rd doom scroll of the day. Leeds United were 1-0 up away from home, and my timeline was peppered with Leeds supporters bemoaning their team and manager.
Even after the game, when Leeds had added two more goals to win 3-0, the general mood seemed to be one of demoralisation. One name was mentioned in every tweet: Bielsa.
Look, I get it. Marcelo Bielsa was a wonderful Leeds manager because he created a legacy that was sure to last beyond his tenure. Jesse Marsch may well be a very fine football manager, but he is unlikely to inspire the same feelings. He is not Bielsa and nor does he want to be.
But he does deserve a little better than this. Leeds’ game at Watford was tetchy, nervy and, at times, barely watchable, but then what do you expect from a fixture between two struggling clubs when the away side must not lose and the home side must win?
If the accusation is that Marsch has made Leeds boring, a) good, the chaos thing had stopped working under Bielsa, and b) the 3-2 victory over Wolves in their last away game was one of the most chaotic Premier League matches I’ve seen in recent seasons.
For the record, Leeds have taken 10 points from their last four league games, more than they managed in Bielsa’s last 10. Nobody is expecting any Leeds supporter to suspend their adoration and admiration for their former manager – so much of football fandom is governed by emotion rather than reason and that is to be celebrated.
But moaning about his successor when your team is winning (and subsequently goes on to win more handsomely) seems harsh. Marsch was given a remit to keep Leeds in the Premier League and they probably need five points from their last six games to secure it.
Sometimes it won’t be pretty. Sometimes you will crave the mania of Bielsa-ball. But given how clear an identity Leeds had under Marsch’s predecessor and how hard we knew it would be to shift that in the midst of a relentless run of matches, he deserves great credit.