Haaland, Minamino and F-bombs on camera: Remembering Marsch's last Anfield visit
If Jesse Marsch’s second visit to Anfield is anything like the first, we are in for a treat this weekend.
But how the Leeds United boss must wish he had an Erling Haaland, or even a Patson Daka, Dominik Szoboszlai or Takumi Minamino, to call upon this time around.
Marsch arrives on Merseyside as a man under pressure, his side 18th in the Premier League table having picked up only nine points, and two wins, from their opening 11 games.
The American may be a manager who talks about “process” and “detail”, but he knows results are what matter most at this moment in time.
“I’m sick of losing,” Marsch told his pre-match press conference on Thursday, and he knows that another defeat on Saturday evening will do little to calm the speculation surrounding his future at Elland Road.
“I’m not dumb,” he added. “Of course I know some people want me out.”
It was a thrashing at Anfield back in February which helped seal the fate of his predecessor, Marcelo Bielsa, and Marsch knows a huge challenge faces his side despite Liverpool’s own well-documented struggles this season.
“We’re expecting them at their absolute best,” he said. “It has to be our best game, our best counter-pressing game, our most disciplined game and our most intensive game. We have to make sure we’re at the highest level.”
It is more than three years since Marsch’s last visit to Anfield, and on that occasion both he and his young, vibrant Salzburg side left quite an impression.
Having found themselves 3-0 down inside 36 minutes that night, the Austrians could easily have crumbled. They didn’t, rallying superbly to make it 3-3, with Haaland scoring the equaliser four minutes after being summoned from the bench, before Mohamed Salah’s winner in front of the Kop restored order.
The game was famous for Marsch’s half-time team talk, which was captured by a fly-on-the-wall camera for the ‘This is Salzburg’ documentary series.
In it, he delivers an impassioned plea to his players to pay Liverpool less respect and show more fight and aggression, switching between languages in a bid to get his point across.
“Es is nicht ein f*cking freundschaftspiel!” he rages (it is not a f*cking friendly match), telling his side they have “zu viel respekt fur der gegner” (too much respect for the opponent) before urging his side, in industrial English, to “get f*cking stuck in.”
He laughs whenever it is brought up now - “it’s not great to have a video with so many F-words!” he has said - but his speech certainly had the desired effect on the night.
Salzburg were 3-1 down when he delivered it, but hit back through Minamino shortly after half-time before Haaland, who had started the game on the bench due to an injury, tapped in an equaliser in front of the delirious away fans.
Marsch regrets what happened next, as he charged down the touchline, Jose Mourinho-style, to celebrate with his players.
“Maybe it was premature,” he told MLS Extra Time in 2020, “but I was so proud of the guys, and the way they’d changed everything going into the second half.”
Klopp was equally complimentary of Salzburg’s efforts afterwards.
“There are teams that would maybe break down after 3-0 at Anfield,” he said, “but they didn’t, they were not really bothered! We opened the door and they ran through!"
He was less impressed when shown the footage of Marsch’s half-time talk.
“If LFCTV would put out a video of me in a situation like that, I would leave the club,” he said, prompting a thousand sighs at the Amazon Prime offices, no doubt.
Klopp admitted recently that Haaland, free-scoring even then, had been the player on his mind going into the game: "We were thinking how we were going to shut him down."
But while the Norwegian would join Borussia Dortmund a few months later, Liverpool would take the plunge on one of his Salzburg team-mates in the January transfer window.
Minamino had impressed everyone with his performance at Anfield, and by the time the sides met in Austria, 10 weeks later, a deal had already been agreed for him to move to England, Liverpool taking advantage of their good relationship with the Red Bull organisation, plus a £7.25 million (€8.4m/$8.4m) release clause, to land the Japanese international.
Minamino would not have quite the same impact on Merseyside as Haaland did in Dortmund, of course.
He left for Monaco in the summer having started only 21 games in two-and-a-half years, though his contribution to last season’s Carabao Cup and FA Cup successes - he was the Reds’ top scorer in both competitions - ensures he will be fondly remembered.
As for Marsch, he would land two Austrian Bundesliga titles with Salzburg before moving onto Leipzig, Red Bull’s premier club, in 2021.
His time in Germany was short-lived, however; he was fired after just five months, having won only eight of his 21 games in charge.
This, then, represents something of a make-or-break moment for the 48-year-old.
He did well to keep Leeds in the Premier League last season, survival achieved courtesy of a final-day win at Brentford, but having been seen a hefty turnover of players in the summer, losing stars such as Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha while bringing in the likes of Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, Rasmus Kristensen, Luis Sinisterra, Marc Roca and Wilfried Gnonto, they have been underwhelming since.
A section of fans were even chanting for Marsch’s sacking during the 3-2 defeat to Fulham last weekend.
He can expect sympathy from Klopp, who will be alongside him on the touchline having escaped a ban following his row with assistant referee Gary Beswick against Manchester City.
"I saw the last three games and I have to say there's massive difference between the results they got and the performance they put in," the Liverpool boss said on Friday.
"We can look at the last two, or the last four, five, six games where they didn’t get the result - a real result. And you think, 'Oh, they are in a bad moment.' Then, you watch the game, and you think, 'Oh, actually they are in a good moment.'
"They just don't bring it over the line, but they caused everybody massive problems - everybody. So, that's the Leeds I prepare for."
Liverpool themselves need the points on Saturday, of course, with the gap to the top already sizeable. Defeat to Nottingham Forest was just the latest in a growing list of disappointments this season, although confidence should have been restored with Champions League progression in Amsterdam in midweek.
They were far too strong for Leeds last season, winning both meetings with a 9-0 aggregate, and the evening kick-off, Klopp hopes, will ensure a vibrant atmosphere under the Anfield lights.
Marsch laughed when it was suggested that his side may be able to exploit "weaknesses" in the Reds' armoury, but he at least knows what it takes to compete on this stage, and at this ground.
His hope is that Leeds can do in 2022 what Salzburg did in 2019, and maybe even go one better.