Leeds are in the relegation zone for the first time since October; Head coach Jesse Marsch is looking for motivation from inspirational figures; Watch Leeds vs Chelsea on Wednesday live on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm; Kick-off 7.30pm
Tuesday 10 May 2022 13:19, UK
Jesse Marsch is taking inspiration from sporting legends such as Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali to push Leeds United to Premier League survival ahead of their clash with Chelsea, live on Sky Sports.
Leeds slipped into the relegation zone on goal difference for the first time since October following Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Arsenal while Everton moved out with a victory by the same scoreline at Leicester.
Marsch has been looking for ways to provide added motivation for his side ahead of matches after winger Jack Harrison revealed how the American used a quote from Mahatma Gandhi before the Emirates clash.
"Inspiration is a big part of this job and when you lead people you have to find ways to have your finger on the pulse of exactly what's happening at any moment," said Marsch, who majored in history at university, in his pre-match press conference.
"I have 52 excerpts from books that I sometimes give players when, individually, I think they need something to motivate them based on where they are in their development path or who they are as people to reach them differently rather than the conversations I have with them.
The key is understanding exactly what messages to use at the right time, so players know how to handle moments.
"I have hundreds of quotes that I use at different moments that I try to think about how they fit with who I am, the way we try to play football and how it might fit in a moment in the season. I love quotes. I love learning from people of the past, sports figures, historical figures, whatever.
"The key is understanding exactly what messages to use at the right time, so players know how to handle moments. Here we are in the stress of relegation trying to stay strong with our belief, confidence, commitment, and mentality. I'm just trying to find ways to motivate, and inspire our collective mentality so that we have the best chance to manage the moments we're in.
"I've used Muhammed Ali a few times with the group, Michael Jordan is a guy I'm inspired by, Phil Jackson. I use things that resonate with me that I think can also fit within the standing of where we are. There are other historical figures like Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and presidents like JFK that have meant something to where we are historically in the world right now."
Leeds will be without right-back Luke Ayling for the remainder of the season after he was sent off for a reckless tackle in the defeat to Arsenal. Marsch, who believes the defender "defines what Leeds want to be", has called upon Ayling to support his teammates and that now is about "sticking together, not finger-pointing".
Jamie Shackleton could be in line to replace him at right-back but Marsch has also explored the possibility of playing a centre-back in the position. The Leeds head coach is also aiming to address Raphinha's form, admitting they hadn't seen his best.
"I like Raphina's passion, his mentality, personality and desire to win and be a great player. He is a fantastic talent, we haven't got enough out of him, that's the truth," said Marsch, who also believes the winger is "not at all" distracted by a potential move away from the club.
"We've tried to find ways to play with him a little bit wider, to be in transition moments a little bit more, to get him around the goal more.
"Playing him at wing-back doesn't always provide him the chance to be in those spaces. We'll figure out how to get him on the ball more, in space, on the move more so he can be dangerous."
Everton's relegation fate is in their hands following back-to-back wins including a rare away victory at Leicester, only their second in 17 attempts this season.
It means they are a point above both Burnley and Leeds with a significantly better goal difference than the latter and four games to play compared to their three.
But Frank Lampard has warned his side cannot think their survival mission has been achieved ahead of a crucial fixture at relegated Watford on Wednesday.
"As much as we enjoyed the weekend, a game which got us out of the relegation zone with games to go, it's very dangerous now to relax on that," he said at his pre-match press conference.
"The only message now is we have to go and finish the job which is a tough job. We have to expect the worse everywhere else but we can control ourselves. There's absolutely no way we can relax, that's the biggest message."
Lampard is wary of the threat Watford will pose with the pressure off now that their fate has been confirmed.
"Pressure is a funny thing. It can affect you when you're under it to react in a good or bad way. The same when you relieve that pressure. We'll find that out but focusing on ourselves is the important thing," he said.
"They're all dangerous [games]. To underestimate it because Watford are relegated would be our biggest danger for us but every game in the Premier League is dangerous, especially when you travel away from home. We've found that out for a while, we changed it the other day but the minute you think you've cracked it, you haven't.
"It's a step forward but getting one result doesn't mean you go and get more. It just means you have to understand why we got a result. The team are together in every moment, we had good chances because we were very quick to attack at times, we defended very tight and individuals played good games. That's what gets you results away from home and consistently to do that is the big challenge."
Lampard praised the togetherness shown at the club, believing it is a requirement for success and one of the key factors why he's been able to turn Everton's fortunes around.
"From my experience of football over a long time, you only win or have relative success with togetherness," he added. "That's from players, staff, owners, board, fans and everybody. The level we're playing at, it's nigh-on impossible to be successful without that.
"You have to be together as much as you can be. That's probably been one of the biggest challenges for me coming into a team and a club that's low on confidence mid-season, is how do you rebuild certain parts to bring that? At the moment people are reacting in a good way but we have to continue for another four games."
May 11 - Watford (a)
May 15 - Brentford (h)
May 19 - Crystal Palace (h)
May 22 - Arsenal (a)
May 11 - Chelsea (h), live on Sky Sports
May 15 - Brighton (h)
May 22 - Brentford (a)
Can't decide which of Wednesday's crucial Premier League games to watch? With Wolves vs Man City kicking off during half-time of Leeds vs Chelsea, and both live on Sky Sports, you don't need to miss a minute with our second-screen viewing on the Sky Sports App.
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