Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has offered his sympathy for departed Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch after the American was dismissed from his position at Elland Road ahead of the pair’s Premier League clash.
A barren winless run in the top-flight has cost the former RB Leipzig man his position in West Yorkshire, despite only playing one match – a defeat to Nottingham Forest – since he was backed in the transfer market.
With a slew of major new signings now bereft of the man who pushed to sign them, Leeds have gambled with a relegation battle looming, but it is with the club Ten Hag feels frustrated by as a fellow man in the dugout.
“It’s always sad,” he said. “If a manager or a colleague gets sacked, in general, I don’t believe in it. Let managers do their work and finish their work. The pressure is high with decision makers in football clubs (but) if you see the stats, mostly it doesn’t work out so well.”
That sympathy will not extend to going easy on Leeds however, with Ten Hag keep to reinforce his side’s place as the dominant force in their historic rivalry.
“It’s about the match of the Roses and it’s definitely a big game in this part of England,” he added.
“The game means so much to our fans and our players know that, they know what to do.”
Leeds will be under the watch of caretaker Michael Skubala, who is hoping to ensure the Whites offer up a response after a difficult period that has seen them slip into the thick of the battle for the bottom three.
“It’s every coach’s dream to lead a team in the Premier League against Manchester United,” he added.
“I’m lucky enough to be trusted by the board to lead the team out on Wednesday. I will be up for this as much as the players and other coaching staff. It’s very exciting.
“I saw Jesse before he left and he spoke to all the staff, that (what he said) is personal. The situation is very hard for the club and Jesse. He did a great job, he tried to build a team with a way of playing but ultimately the board decided they didn’t think he was getting enough points and it’s a points-based industry.
“Everybody that has to leave a club is disappointed. It’s a disappointing time for Jesse. He was very professional and very caring to the staff and said his goodbyes in a very professional manner.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Man Utd – Marcus Rashford
The England international has scored in each of his last five Premier League home games. The last Red Devils player to score in six consecutive league appearances at Old Trafford was Wayne Rooney back in April 2012.
Leeds – Wilfried Gnonto
Since his Premier League debut at the end of October, the Italy international has created more chances (13), won more fouls (20) and completed more dribbles (11) in the Premier League than any other Whites player.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Man Utd have lost just one of their last 17 Premier League games against Leeds (W11 D5), a 1-0 away loss in September 2002.
– Since their return to the Premier League in 2020, only against Man City (16) have Leeds conceded more league goals than they have against Manchester United (15).
– Leeds are winless in their last 17 away league games against Man Utd (D6 L11), since a 1-0 victory in February 1981. Only at West Ham (18 between 1921 and 1956) have the Whites ever had a longer winless run in their league history.
– After winning six of their first seven midweek (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) Premier League games following their return to the division in 2020 (L1), Leeds are now winless in their last nine such games (D3 L6). They scored 19 and conceded five in those first seven, but have scored seven and conceded 30 in the last nine.
– Manchester United have won their last 13 games at Old Trafford in all competitions, their longest winning home run since a club record run of 20 between December 2010 and September 2011.