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Talking Tactics: Jesse out to get Saints Marsching towards survival
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Matthew Hill
Jesse Marsch is expected to be named as the new Southampton boss
Jesse Marsch is expected to be named as the new Southampton boss

Jesse Marsch is on the brink of a rapid return to Premier League management with Southampton set to name him as their new boss.

The Saints disposed of Nathan Jones after just 14 games and 94 chaotic days on Sunday, with a 2-1 home loss to 10-man Wolves proving to be the final straw.

Remarkably, his replacement looks set to be a man who lost his job less than a week earlier, with ex-Leeds manager Marsch poised to take the reins at St Mary’s imminently.

The American polarised opinion during his year in Yorkshire but will now be tasked with keeping one of their relegation rivals afloat — potentially at his former club’s expense.

Ahead of a weekend trip to Chelsea, we consider whether Marsch could be the man to save Southampton.

Trusted formula

Saints’ appointment of ex-Luton boss Jones always felt like a left-field choice.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s near four-year stint on the South Coast had been a rollercoaster ride, overseen by a man who had tried to promote entertaining football at any cost with very mixed results. 

Replacing him with an outspoken Welshman who had built his reputation by turning an unfashionable lower-league outfit into an effective but sometimes unattractive high-flier seemed to represent a change in approach.

Southampton’s ownership group Sport Republic appeared to be looking long-term with Jones but ultimately pushed the panic button after an abject start to his tenure.

Now, they will turn to Marsch — a man who arrived in the Premier League from RB Leipzig, played expansive and energetic football at Leeds but ultimately paid for poor results with his job.

In many ways, this feels like Hasenhuttl part two.

Yanks for the memories

Jesse Marsch struggled to kick Leeds onto the next level in 2022-23
Jesse Marsch struggled to kick Leeds onto the next level in 2022-23

Marsch became only the third American to coach a Premier League side when taking charge at Elland Road 12 months ago and his stint was not all doom and gloom.

The 49-year-old inherited a squad sat just three points above the drop zone with one win in their previous seven top-flight outings, yet kept them up with a final-day victory over Brentford.

Having emerged from that dramatic run-in with credit, his task this term was to drive the Whites up towards the division’s top half, though things did not go to plan.

Despite summer investment, four wins in 20 Premier League games ultimately prompted Leeds’ owners to relieve him of his duties, with Marsch’s men picking up just 11 points from a possible 51 between late August and early February.

Impressive victories over Liverpool and Chelsea had shown a side brimming with potential but Marsch was unable to draw those levels from his team on a consistent basis.

Better fit

Reports suggest that the Southampton board see Marsch as someone who can make a quick impact on a squad devoid of confidence.

His experience in steering Leeds to safety last term, combined with his reputation as a strong orator, appears to have convinced those in charge that he is the man to turn a dire situation around.

Speaking to the Coaches’ Voice during his time as FC Salzburg boss, Marsch shared some insight on his approach when first arriving at a new club. 

He said: "The first important strand of my philosophy is getting the players to buy in to my ideas. I like to call it ‘creating internal belief’.

"To create this belief, I introduce my tactical details in as simple terms as possible. Ralf [Rangnick] showed me it’s important to keep vocabulary and ideas simple, and to avoid making anything too unnecessarily complicated.

"The more of a common understanding of those details among the players, the easier it is for them to put the ideas into practice."

With Southampton currently four points adrift of safety with 16 games remaining, time is certainly of the essence.

Career crossroads

Jesse Marsch will hope to make Southampton a more aggressive and attacking side
Jesse Marsch will hope to make Southampton a more aggressive and attacking side

Marsch may have thought his chances of landing another Premier League job were slim but Southampton have handed him a shot at salvation.

With most observers having already written his new side off as relegated, he arrives with low expectations and a fanbase united behind him following the departure of his unpopular predecessor.

Only Bournemouth have conceded more goals than Marsch’s new side this season, while only Everton have scored fewer — and it is clear which statistic is more likely to improve.

Though his Leeds side never looked the safest at the back, the Whites did always carry a goal threat during the American’s reign and expected goals tables suggest they have been unlucky not to net more in 2022-23.

With a raft of attacking reinforcements having arrived on the South Coast last month, Marsch will back himself to get Southampton scoring more freely and blast their way up the Premier League table.

Whether or not he succeeds, it looks sure to be an entertaining ride.


SouthamptonPremier League
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