Leeds United’s first match of the post-Marcelo Bielsa era began with a 1-0 Premier League defeat at Leicester City on Saturday , but new American manager Jesse Marsch saw plenty of encouraging signs from a team that conceded 20 goals last month.
A second half goal from Harvey Barnes moved Leicester up to 10th in the standings while a fifth straight defeat for Leeds leaves them two points above the relegation zone in 16th place – but having played more games than all teams below them.
The match began with end-to-end action and Leicester striker Jamie Vardy tormented Leeds’ high line early on, but the visitors managed to keep a clean sheet in the opening 45 minutes for the first time since January.
Leeds also had their chances and started the second half brightly with Leicester keeper Kasper Schmeichel keeping them at bay with some fine saves.
“Even going into the match I felt the performance was more important than the points,” Marsch told the BBC.
“It’s our first match together, we’ve had four days on the (training) pitch and I’m pleased with how they controlled the match in all phases of the game, including set pieces. They’ve made so much progress in a short space of a time.”
But Leicester finally broke the deadlock against the run of play midway through the second half when Barnes played an intricate one-two pass with Kelechi Iheanacho before sliding the ball past Illan Meslier in Leeds’ goal.
“It’s always a tough game against Leeds. They had a new manager as well so we didn’t know how they were going to set up, but they still have the same intensity, it’s still end to and,” Barnes told BT Sport.
“A tough afternoon but delighted with the three points… You don’t want to make it end-to-end against Leeds. You want to keep the ball and we didn’t do that for a lot of the afternoon, we made it a basketball game.”