Jesse Marsch urges Leeds’ players to stick to the game-plan against Norwich

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Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch has urged his players to be brave and stick to the game-plan in Sunday’s crunch Premier League clash with Norwich.

Marsch had 12 games to rescue Leeds’ season when the club made the bold decision to dispense with Marcelo Bielsa at the end of last month.

The American has lost his first two games in charge and the manner of their club record-equalling sixth straight league defeat on Thursday against Aston Villa had some fans heading for the Elland Road exits long before the final whistle.

Marsch said: “We just started trying a bunch of things that we never talked about and we have to stay to the plan. We have to stay to the plan.

“If we don’t do that then we’re weaker. We see the weaknesses of our players and not the strengths. So that will certainly be a message.”

There were signs that Marsch had made an immediate impact in his bid to make Leeds harder to beat in last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Leicester.

But they were easy pickings for impressive Villa, who cruised to a 3-0 win against a side which have lost their way, bereft of self-belief and ill at ease with the system Marsch wants to implement.

Jesse Marsch's first game in charge at Elland Road did not go to plan
Jesse Marsch’s first game in charge at Elland Road did not go to plan (Tim Goode/PA)

“I’ll be watching the (Villa) game and my focus will be on understanding how to paint a picture (on Friday) and Saturday, so that we can understand a little bit better what we need the game on Sunday to look like and how we need to handle being in the moment.”

Leeds are two points above the relegation zone, but the two teams immediately below them, Everton and Burnley, have three and two games in hand respectively.

Large sections of Leeds fans defiantly chanted Bielsa’s name after Villa defender Calum Chambers had sublimely curled home his side’s third goal.

Next up is Norwich and the Leeds hierarchy will be bracing themselves as defeat to the top flight’s bottom club will turn the air at Elland Road toxic.

Marsch added: “I understand their frustration and concern. But again, the most important thing is the belief and the courage that we have as a club, as a city and as a community.

“I know with the fans you have to earn it. It’s not given, right? It’s the same with players, the same with directors, it’s the same with everything.

“But I’m not afraid. I’m here for the right reasons and I want to help this club be the things I really believe it can be.”

Patrick Bamford stepped off the bench against Villa to end his three-month injury lay-off and it remains to be seen if the striker will start on Sunday.

Marsch fears Junior Firpo faces a long spell out after he left the field on a stretcher on Thursday night after injuring his knee in a challenge with Emiliano Buendia.

Talisman Kalvin Phillips and skipper Liam Cooper (both hamstring) will not be ready until after the international break and Tyler Roberts has been ruled out for the rest of the season after hamstring surgery.

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