Jesse Marsch refuses to accept Leeds are safe from relegation despite his side’s vital 3-0 win at Watford on Saturday.
United went into the game on the back of two wins from their last three games and looking to make it 10 points from 12. And goals from Raphinha, Rodrigo and Jack Harrison helped Leeds claim the points, despite not being at their most fluent best. That said, a first clean sheet since November was crucial and means Leeds are, for now, nine points clear of relegation.
Despite welcoming the win, Marsch insists Leeds still cannot afford to relax. He believes the gap may well be a lot smaller by the time his side next play, away at Crystal Palace, in 16 days’ time.
However, Marsch was clearly happy to claim the points and believes his players are finding form at just the right time.
“Really excited we were able, in a tough moment, to emerge [with the win],” Marsch said. “The points are massive for us. There is confidence and momentum in the group. After six weeks we can see the form of many players and the overall mentality of the group is growing so much.
“At half-time tried to emphasise we can calm down and find more spaces. The game was such they were going to isolate their wingers. For the most part we contained that pretty well. Defensively, [we were] quite good. Jack Harrison’s goal – I want to see more moments like that. A clean sheet though and three goals, massive result, very important!”
Despite moving nine clear of the drop zone, Marsch is adamant Leeds are not safe just yet.
“We’re still in it. Everyone else is getting results. There’s been some weak penalties in some of these games, but we can’t buy one. We havee to fight for everything. I’m OK with that.
“It would have been a tough 16 days to wait if we hadn’t got the result. By the time Palace comes around [Monday April 25] the table will be tight again. We need to focus on ourselves. It’s goot us to where we are right now. We’re working every day.”
Marsch, however, is happy with the way the Leeds players have responded to him.
“Been saying since day one, the mentality has been fantastic. The quality we had in the match and what we wanted it to look like, far from perfect, but I can draw on their motivation and inspiration, belief in each other, when the game is not perfect. Try to do certain things effectively, but fighting is important.”
Forshaw, Meslier fitness updates from Jesse Marsch
Leeds made one change from the team that drew with Southampton, with Robin Koch stepping in to replace the injured Adam Forshaw.
Forshaw was forced to sit this one out having sustained a calf injury. Marsch does not expect that to be serious, though and reckons he will return to training this week.
He added: “We spoke pre-match about the team, how we are doing, our goals. Adam is very intelligent and is a student of the game. Fun to have those convos with. He was injured on the day. He’s an important player for us. We have some good relationships established within the group.”
Meslier was also an injury doubt in the build-up to the game with the keeper still suffering from the clattering he picked up at Wolves under a heavy challenge from Raul Jimenez.
The Frenchman, however, defied those injuries to feature, with Marsch hailing one his best displays under him so far.
“[Kristoffer] Klaesson was playing as of Thursday,” Jesse Marsch said of Meslier.
“It’s the same injury from the Wolves game. I’ve read something about no second yellow [for Jimenez]! Yet three weeks later and he is still struggling.
“But he’s made a miraculous recovery given how he felt two days ago. I know goalkeepers need rhythm. We needed a big performance from whoever played and Illan, without training, delivered one of his best displays of the season.”