Leeds United’s Jesse Marsch takes in his first home game as the club’s manager as he welcomes Aston Villa to Elland Road on Thursday night.
The Whites tasted defeat in his opening Premier League encounter against Leicester City at the weekend, and with the club’s precarious position in the table, three points at home to Villa would be a huge relief.
Marsch will have some big calls to make ahead of the game about the make up of his team, and one man who he must finally axe, is Robin Koch.
Here on FFC, we called on the German to be dropped from the starting line-up, but Marsch stuck with the former Freiburg man for the clash against the Foxes and continued to use him in midfield – a position he has mostly occupied in recent weeks.
If the new Leeds boss felt his arrival could spark a rapid change in Koch’s performances, then he was sadly mistaken, with the natural centre-back struggling really to come to grips with his role.
As per Sofascore, he lost a whopping ten of his 14 duels on the day – by far the worst record of any player on the pitch – conceded possession on 11 separate occasions, and failed to provide a single key pass.
Writing in his post-match player ratings for MOT Leeds News, Mark Smith gave him a six, saying: “Another role in midfield for the German, with Adam Forshaw nursing a small injury on the bench. He didn’t do much wrong in there but Leeds do lose that passing ability of others when we’re on the ball.”
Those sentiments were echoed by The Yorkshire Evening Post’s Graham Smyth, who noted: “Got stuck in, tried to contribute on the ball but at times lacked composure in possession.”
Given Kalvin Phillips’ absence, seeing Koch having to make-do as a central midfielder makes for very difficult viewing, especially when you consider the drop-off in quality between the two.
Reports earlier last year indicated that former Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa thought the German was “too soft” to really succeed at this level, and that idea hasn’t exactly been proven wrong.
With Aston Villa picking up back-to-back wins recently – including a 4-0 thrashing of Southampton last time out – having Koch trying to mark the likes of Philippe Coutinho in midfield, and then also shouldering the burden of kick-starting attacks, just seems a step too far.
The £50k-a-week earning ace just needs to be taken out of the firing line for now, or he could cost them badly tonight.