Leeds boss Jesse Marsch bemoaned his “freestyling” players after frustrating afternoon ended in a 1-0 defeat to Brighton a The Amex Stadium.
It was the end of Leeds’ unbeaten Premier League start, while Brighton stretched their unbeaten Premier League streak to a club-record nine games. Pascal Gross was again on target for Brighton, his second-half strike earning Graham Potter’s men a deserved victory.
Leeds were second best for much of the afternoon in which manager Marsch was shown a second-half yellow card following persistent petulant touchline behaviour.
The American, who was animated all afternoon, slammed the ball into the turf after his side were awarded a free-kick and then sarcastically applauded referee Michael Salisbury. The American admitted afterwards his behaviour warranted a booking.
But it was the players who decided to deviate from the plan which Marsch was not happy with.
“Brighton much more on top in the first half. Second half was different We pushed in more, more in their end. Not as many clear-cut chances as I would have liked. We changed strategy. Pushed the game more,” said Marsch.
‘Biggest challenge is to push team’
“We know, after Chelsea, fanfare, but this league is every match different, very, very good. Brighton first half really strategically managed the game better. Made it difficult for us. Okay in the second half.
“We had guys freestyling with and without the ball. Staying true to the match plan needed to be better. Emotion would take over last season and we would not play to the plan.
“The biggest challenge is to push the team to get better and better. Every match is a massive final exam, test. Like our guys, our process, where we are.”
Marsch said he was “excited” to hand substitute Luis Sinisterra his first minutes in the Premier League. The new signing scored in the win over Barnsley in midweek and wasted a golden chance for the visitors by diverting wide of an unguarded goal prior to the Brighton goal.
“I was excited to get them on. A bit quicker in the action and maybe Luis makes it 1-0. There is more work to do,” said Marsch when asked about his subs.
Marsch not happy with referee
Asked about Brighton, Marsch said: “They man mark. With the ball, played long and gave us the ball to bypass the pressing. Part of the match plan we wanted to build. We did not do the things we wanted, invited them to dictate the game more and more. Tried to change in the second half.
“Mostly in the build-up phase, we were trying things we never talked about. Looked at what Brighton did and tried to exploit them, but most important thing, not to get lured into a game where we build up, give it them and let them counter us.
“Lucky to get in level at the break.”
But the US boss did take his yellow card on the chin from a referee, Michael Salisbury, who was only officiating in his second Premier League game.
“Yes. My behaviour deserved that. When you don’t believe you’re getting performances out of the referee you either accept it or escalate your behaviour to get a change in their decisions.
“I did not know it was his second Premier League match. It was not a good performance, but ours was not good either. Had him as the fourth against Chelsea, like his demeanour. I let him know that a couple of times.”
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