Leeds boss Jesse Marsch admits it’s ‘difficult to be friendly’ with other managers

Leeds head coach Jesse Marsch has admitted his competitive nature may prevent him from befriending rival managers.

he 48-year-old American has had a difficult baptism into English football as he battles to retain Leeds’ top-flight status after replacing Marcelo Bielsa in February.

Marsch, who will take charge of his sixth game as Leeds boss on Saturday at relegation rivals Watford, said the mutual respect and friendship shared by Premier League managers may be at odds with his desire to win.

Asked about his new managerial environment, the former New York Red Bulls and Salzburg manager said: “I would say likeable, maybe too likeable for me.

“But I appreciate that the manager, the respect – I call it a shared misery – and the respect for that shared misery is quite strong here in England.

“We had Adrian Heath in the States, he coached in Orlando, then he coached in Minnesota and he was always really good after the game to say ‘come and have a beer’.

“And I did it with hesitation and found it incredibly rewarding. I want to recognize the work that other people do. I respect and appreciate the work that other people do in this business.

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Jesse Marsch is a huge admirer of Watford boss Roy Hodgson, pictured (Peter Byrne/PA)

Jesse Marsch is a huge admirer of Watford boss Roy Hodgson, pictured (Peter Byrne/PA)

“It’s hard for me to be friendly with competitors sometimes because in my mind I don’t want to like them.

“But when I end up liking them, I think the respect usually grows. But I like motivation, when I’m pushed to want to beat someone.

The level of hospitality Marsch will be offered by Watford boss Roy Hodgson after Saturday’s relegation clash at Vicarage Road remains to be seen.

Hodgson’s side, second in the table, can come within five points of Leeds if they win and have a game in hand.

It’s hard for me to be friendly with competitors sometimes because in my mind I don’t want to like themJesse Marsch

But Marsch has made his respect for the 74-year-old former England manager clear.

“I watched it for years,” Marsch said. “In a lot of different places he’s been with the national team and had an amazing career.

“The passion he still has at his age is something to admire. I don’t know what I will do (at his age) because one year in the life of a manager can be 10.

“I have so much respect for the career he’s had and what he’s achieved in his career, no doubt.”

After recent wins over Norwich and Wolves, Leeds’ bid to move further away from relegation problems was met with frustration last week when they were held 1-1 at home by Southampton.

Watford have lost their last five league games at home, but Marsch added: “They are a talented group, there are a lot of players in one-on-ones.

“I know Watford are a down team and are fighting relegation, but I still think Roy Hodgson has done a good job with them.

“They are disciplined, organized and it won’t be an easy game for us.”

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