Jesse Marsch took over from Marcelo Bielsa as Leeds boss in February and has the tough task of ensuring Leeds remain in the Premier League. The Leeds side that performed so well last season has been a shadow of that success this time around. They have been hampered by injuries and Marsch puts the blame solely on Bielsa.
Marcelo Bielsa has built a career on ensuring his team is physically strong, they must run the furthest, sprint the fastest and keep pushing to the very end.
He transformed Leeds, successfully returning them to the Premier League after a far too long absence. But he also kept them up, playing exciting soccer, full of goals and breathless play, ending the season in 9th.
To do this, he famously trained his players hard. They would be constantly running during sessions, pushing them to improve physically. The team would look to be permanently playing at 150%, this was shown by them sprinting the furthest total distance in the league.
However, this approach has been far less successful this season. They have had the most injuries this year, missing a spine of centre-back Liam cooper, central midfielder Kalvin Phillips and striker Patrick Bamford for most of the season. This has hampered their form, relying on the odd star performance from players like Raphina to pull them through.
Results were not going their way and by January they were positioned dangerously close to the relegation zone. With no hope of results transforming without change, Bielsa was replaced by Marsch.
The American has a different approach to the game, although he wants his team to be quick and push forward, he feels that the team has been let down by Bielsa’s methods. He believes they were over-trained and that is why they are unable to sustain fitness this time around.
This not only highlights that when results go your way no one questions your methods, but also brings into question, at what point does training go too far? We like to applaud players for showing incredible work ethic, spending extra hours on the training field before and after sessions, but can this be taken too far?
Sports science has shown us that rest is just as important as the actual training, if you do not allow your body to recover you will reach breaking point.
Although it is important to maximise effort in training, conditioning players to matchday levels, getting them used to sprinting large distances for greater lengths of time. But there is a balance that must be met for success.
Bielsa has shown that a team can well and truly be built upon hard work and energy, but this cannot continue for long without effective recovery time.
The next time you put your players through a tough session, remind them that a lie in the following day is in order!
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