Over the past couple seasons, Salzburg have made a name for themselves and are one team with a fast-rising pedigree at the moment. Former manager Marco Rose did a good job with the club after leading them to the semis of the Europa League last season and another name set for great heights with the Austrian side is new boss Jesse Marsch.
Marsch has certainly learned his trade. As a professional player, he spent 14 seasons in Major League Soccer with DC United, Chicago Fire and Chivas USA, winning three league titles and four US Open titles (Transfermarkt). Coaching was always on the horizon for Marsch and following retirement he threw himself in at the deep end, serving as an assistant with the US national team – working under the well-respected Bob Bradley.
Montreal Impact was his first point of call as a head coach before moving to New York in 2015. Marsch looked a good fit for the position at New York Red Bulls, but taking over from the club’s most successful coach in history, Mike Petke, meant he had plenty of work to do. In his first season, he led his side to the MLS Supporters Shield, as well as being named MLS Coach of the Year in 2015.
In July 2018 he left with his head held high. A record of 76 wins, 30 draws and 45 defeats means he has the highest win percentage of any boss to manage the club (Transfermarkt).
A brief, but productive season at RB Leipzig as a no.2 to Ralf Rangnick followed before he secured a return to management with Salzburg. It hasn’t gone too bad for Marsch since taking over the reigns at the Austrian side.
Winning your first eight league games at any level is impressive, with the 45-year-old’s high-press and attacking style of playmaking him a popular figure among supporters. Salzburg are five points clear at the top of their domestic league after a near-flawless start, winning eight of their nine Austrian Bundesliga fixtures to date and scoring a staggering 46 goals in the process – an average of about five goals per game – meaning all the obvious predictions point to Salzburg lifting the title at the end of the season.
On the European level as well, more of the same can be said and Salzburg have made a big impression so far. Marsch would firstly hold himself in high regard as he is the first American-born coach to lead a team in the Champions League group stage. The 45-year-old has his own philosophies to the game and has also followed the blueprints that have seen Salzburg become a growing force in Europe since their takeover back in 2005.
Fostering team spirit and helping his players take responsibility are two fundamental tenets of Marsch’s thinking.
“I think building a team consists of the soccer elements: the tactics, the passing and the technique, but that’s only half of it. The other half is creating a mentality, environment and identity of who we are, how we work and how we interact with each other”, he said to the club’s official website during his time at New York Red Bulls.
“I think I actually spend more time on that side of things than I do on the tactics”
Their 4-3 loss to Liverpool was one that showed exactly the team spirit Marsch is always on about. The 45-year-old showed his tactical brilliance by making an astute change with his team down 2-0 in the first half. In the second half, his side were 3-0 down and made a remarkable 3-3 comeback only to be punished by Salah’s late winner. They lost on the occasion but they could raise their heads up high and the respect Klopp paid Marsch after the game spoke volumes to an extent. It signified the acknowledgement for a man that knows what he wants in a team and isn’t afraid to instil his principles as he has done so far.
Both his tactical skills and leadership qualities are important when it comes to defining Jesse Marsch The recent success he has had is no surprise. From a tactical standpoint, he has also done exceptional work with his coaching staff.
Salzburg are strong in every phase of the game, doing the basics really well. Thanks to many different variations, they are also able to constantly adjust their game to the given circumstances, which makes them a dangerous opponent for any team to face right now. Marsch’s communication skills and leadership qualities complete the picture of a potential top-class head coach. It’s only a matter of time before he will be wanted by top profile clubs.