Jesse Marsch believes his Leeds United squad “can still fight” for survival but admitted they must stop “hurting” themselves with bad discipline.
Leeds United could not take the chance to climb out of the relegation zone, as they lost 3-0 to Chelsea. It was always going to be a tough ask against the reigning world champions, but they did not help themselves.
Indeed, for the second game in a row, Leeds had to play more than an hour with 10 men. This time, Daniel James was sent off for a follow-through challenge which injured Mateo Kovacic.
It means he will miss the rest of the relegation run-in, just like Luke Ayling. In further blows, Raphinha and Jack Harrison had to go off due to physical issues.
It’s backs against the wall for Leeds as they fight for survival. But Marsch must quickly shift their focus to the two chances they have left to catch up with the teams above the critical line.
That said, he described himself as “gutted” about the result against Chelsea. The American observed repeating issues in big games and knows they cannot afford to cross the line again in terms of discipline.
Marsch told BBC Sport: “I’m gutted. We give up an early goal and go down a man again – deja vu from the Arsenal game – against a real big opponent.
“We don’t get a chance to stay in the game and see if we can test ourselves and come away with more. We lose another player. We think Jack Harrison will be OK.
“Our focus is totally on recovering and preparing for Sunday.”
Reflecting on the red card incident, Marsch admitted the dismissal of James was costly for Leeds. However, just like with Ayling against Arsenal, he would not blame him.
Instead, he pointed to how his players are giving everything. In turn, that became a rallying cry for their survival bid.
Jesse Marsch: ‘Committed’ Leeds players ‘deserve more’
Marsch said: “Two tackles in the last two games that are a little bit crossing the line and hurting the team.
“I’m not going to blame or finger point any of our players. They’ve given everything they can. We have to stay within boundaries in not jeopardising ourselves.
“The players are so committed; they deserve more. I’m trying to help them to earn it. I have to stay strong with my belief which I have.
“I believe we can still fight for every point left. Until the red card there were a lot of good things.
“I like our team, I like the club, I love the fanbase. I’m really happy here. We had our backs against the wall in a very difficult situation.
“None of us have lived this. In big games we make the exact same mistakes. We are all in this together and doing everything we can. We’re up for the challenge.”
There are now just two games remaining for Leeds to try and secure Premier League status. On Sunday, they host Brighton, before visiting Brentford one week later.