Barely a week after he was sacked as manager of Leeds United, Jesse Marsch is set to return to the Premier League with bottom side Southampton.
The South Coast side fired their own manager Nathan Jones after just 14 games in charge at the weekend, and have identified Marsch as the stand-out candidate for the job.
He will now be tasked with trying to save them from relegation, and, the American will be aware that, if he is to do so, it may be at the expense of his former club.
Marsch is set to become Southampton’s third manager of the season. The Saints began the campaign with Ralph Hasenhüttl in charge, but he was dismissed in November, just before the World Cup break to make way for Jones.
No time to lose
Southampton have acted so quickly because they want somebody in charge for their next match away at Chelsea on February 18th.
Marsch inherits a team three points adrift at the bottom of the table, having won just four matches all season.
Confidence is likely to be at an all-time low as well. The final straw for Jones as far as the Southampton board were concerned was the weekend defeat to Wolves at home, despite taking the lead and playing against ten men for more than half the match.
Jones, though, had already alienated some of the players and a section of the fan base, with some outspoken comments he had made after their previous defeat to Brentford. He managed just one win during his brief spell in charge at the club.
Although Steve Gerrard and Frank Lampard were also considered for the job – both are out of work having been sacked by Aston Villa and Everton respectively – Marsch was always the preferred candidate.
Southampton have been monitoring Marsch since he was in the MLS at New York Red Bulls, and he is well versed – like Hasenhüttl – in the Red Bull style of play, which is based on pressing from the front. The American would go on to manage both Red Bull Salzburg and RB Leipzig, although his stay at the latter was comparatively short.
Hasenhüttl had managed to keep the team in the top flight of English football with no investment, but, in the end, with results slipping, he lost the dressing room.
Marsch was appointed by Leeds United last February, succeeding the hugely popular Marcelo Bielsa, and, managed to keep them in the Premier League by winning away at Brentford on the last day of the season.
However, this season, the club again found themselves at the wrong end of the table, and he was sacked after a run of seven games without a win.
He had chosen to stay in England after his dismissal, which has made hiring him a lot easier than it might otherwise have been,
The new manager will already have a Red Letter Day marked in his diary. On February 25th Southampton will travel to Leeds for what will be a proverbial “relegation six-pointer”.
Leeds hunt continues
Leeds meanwhile are still searching for their own replacement for Marsch, with the club unable to land any of their top targets for the job.
Rayo Vallecano manager Andoni Iraola was their first choice for the job, but the La Liga side were not prepared to release him from his contract.
Arne Slot, the Feyenoord boss, opted to stay with his current club, whilst Carlos Corberan, who is in charge of West Bromwich Albion, has signed a new contract with the Championship side.
It means that Michael Skubala will stay in temporary charge of the club, and may keep the job until the end of the season.
Skubala was formerly in charge of the under-21 side at Elland Road, but has impressed the players and staff in his two games in charge – a draw away at Manchester United and then a home defeat against the same opposition, just a few days later.
Leeds fans should be aware that they may be taking a chance by not appointing somebody permanently.
In similar circumstances last season Burnley fired Sean Dyche and went down the temporary manager until the end of the season route. They ended up getting relegated to the Championship in the end.
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