Inconsistency was the only consistency for RB Leipzig under Jesse Marsch, who lost his job after a third consecutive league defeat.
|Emil Forsberg and André Silva.||Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
You can’t say Leipzig have had the most ideal of seasons after stuttering to a 2-1 defeat, their sixth in the league this season, at the hands of Union Berlin last week. Four of those losses have come away from home. But one could argue that it isn’t them losing away, but the manner of some of those losses that have irked the club’s hierarchy and cost Jesse Marsch his job three games before the ‘hinrunde’ comes to a stop.
The loss on the opening weekend to Mainz was no anomaly as it basically has set the tome for Leipzig’s away tribulations. Mainz suffered major setbacks before a ball was kicked, with several players testing positive for coronavirus and having to self-isolate as a result, which meant the club had to rely on some untested youngsters to come into both the starting XI and to sit on the bench. Leipzig turned up to the pack with their expensively assembled group looking like anything but a team. They were disorganised, resorting often to individuals and arguably didn’t play like they knew each other. Offensively, only the big summer recruit Andre Silva was new to the fold, but Leipzig. Still, 'Die Roten Bullen' were disjointed. It wasn't like they created a ton of clear-cut openings to speak of. It was bland.
They went home and won convincingly against Stuttgart as they would do in many home games. Results of 6-0; 4-0; 3-0; 4-1; 2-1, in no particular order against the likes of the above mentioned Stuttgart, Fürth, Bochum, Hertha, and Dortmund showed what they’re capable of on a good day; which for the most part came at the comfort of their home, the Red Bull Arena in Saxony in East Germany. Amid those results were the all too frequent away blues, which suggested something just wasn’t right with the Marsch fit. Whether it was tactical, players not following instructions, struggles to bring out the best in their new forward recruit Silva, individual mistakes, not knowing what his best XI or formation was, or really a combination of all those factors – it just didn’t make for a great watch; a modicum of predictableness, knowing what to anticipate when they were on your set just never was with them. The only consistency was their inconsistency.
Admittedly, it cannot be said that Leipzig had the best draw when the Champions League group stage ties and sections were confirmed. But still, for a club with a squad and talent of Leipzig, you at least expected them to make the group far more interesting than one, where they exited effectively before the 5th round of matches! After all, we're talking about a club not far removed from a decent showing in that competition less than a year and a half ago, when they, for the first time, made it to the semi-final of the tournament. In that season, they had success against an English opponent in Tottenham. And just last season, they had success in qualifying in a group containing another English power-house in Manchester United; also, their opponent in this year’s competition: PSG; the French giants were in that same group. They held their own and qualified for the next round where they were knocked out by Liverpool.
So, based on the above, it isn’t a stretch to say that RB Leipzig’s precedence means their fans should not be chastised for expecting more from the team. More than falling meekly at home to Club Brugge of Belgium in just another disjointed performance, conceding a truck-load vs Manchester City. Their first win in the competition came against the aforementioned Brugge after they were knocked out, leaving their fans with that all too famous “oh, what could have been” feeling because of the comprehensiveness of the scoreline and performance.
This is hardly what the club were expecting when employing Marsch from within the Red Bull organization. But, clearly, they ran out of patience. The inconsistencies were becoming unbearable. Three losses in a row for the first time in their history, limp performances on the road, failures to meet with expectation meant it was only a matter of when – not if – he would be booted out. Unfortunate, as he had a mind of his own. He seemed to prefer to play the high-reward energy-sapping full-press employed by his hero and former club director and manager now at Manchester United, Ralf Rangnick. Maybe Marsch should have been given till the end of the ‘hinrunde’ to turn this around, but their reasons for acting now can hardly be argued against.
Whoever gets the job will be charged with getting better results from a squad of very talented players not living up to the preseason hype. One which potentially should be challenging atop the pile; not wallowing in mid-table mediocrity. Marsch was able to bring the best out of Nkunku especially, and the new coach would be hoping to continue that upward trend, and also will be seeking to bring the best out of the many players not performing consistently at a high level. Of course, the coach would also have to conjure up solutions that’ll reverse Leipzig’s meek away form.