EPL

'We never stopped believing,' says Marsch after Leeds avoid Premier League relegation

By Sports Desk May 22, 2022

Leeds United head coach Jesse Marsch credited his players' mentality after they avoided relegation from the Premier League on the final day of the season.

A late goal from Jack Harrison sealed a 2-1 win for Leeds at Brentford, confirming the fate of Burnley, who lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle United.

Newcastle's victory meant a point would have been enough for Leeds, who thought they may have to settle for that after Brentford's Sergi Canos had cancelled out Raphinha's penalty.

Brentford were down to 10 men by the time they levelled in the 78th minute, after Kristoffer Ajer went off injured, with Bees boss Thomas Frank having already made all three substitutions, before Canos was sent off shortly after scoring.

Harrison capitalised on the two-man advantage in stoppage time with Leeds' fourth 90th-minute winner in the Premier League this season, more than any other team. Only champions Manchester City (nine) scored more than their eight total goals in the final minute.

"Hot day – not easy for either team," Marsch told Sky Sports. "We got the lead, which was important. I thought the start was really good.

"When we were up two men, we still didn't want to leave it up to fate, we tried to push the winner to secure our fate. This group has been able to dig deep in injury time and find goals and the character is clear, and it's a privilege to work with these guys.

"We talked about how to play in the heat, how to manage the game, how to stay focused for every moment. Weird that we gave up a goal when we went up a man. We tried to update the players on the Burnley score, but the focus on us was most important.

"It's hard to concentrate and be connected for 90 minutes on days like this, but this is typical of our group – they never stop believing, and it's a credit to our mentality."

Discussion around Marsch's work at Elland Road has pitted him against predecessor Marcelo Bielsa, who was hugely popular among Leeds fans.

"It wasn't easy to manage, and I was trying to think of ways to help the group tactically, and to be fair, we have had good performances; it's just trying to put it all together hasn't always looked perfect," the former RB Leipzig coach added.

"The stress has been high for three months. I've tried to stay calm and focus on us, and you see the quality of the mentality and character.

"There's so much been said about Marcelo Bielsa v me, and there's been people counting us out. I get it; this is high-level stuff, and fans pay attention all over the world.

"It's not a perfect representation of what I want this team to be, but in this situation, we came together well, and I still feel strongly about the group we have and the football we can play. We need to get better and add some pieces, but I love this group, team, character, commitment and spirit.

"We were with our fans enough, and I appreciate the fans singing my name, but that's not the important thing. We are Leeds United, and that's what we will always be as long as I am here.

"I love our fans, but I don't care if they sing my name. It's important we are a committed group and show us that every time on the pitch."

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