Managing in the English Premier League is, without a doubt, the pinnacle of any soccer coach’s career. It is, after all, the most competitive league in the world and the place where managers will be able to prove themselves against the best minds in the game. Sadly, however, North American coaches haven’t fared well in the English top flight which has seen opportunities limited to those from the continent.
This could, however, be about to change, as Jesse Marsch begins his first full season with Leeds United in the Premier League. Indeed, the Wisconsin-born coach now has the chance to change the narrative around North American coaches for good should he be successful at Elland Road. The question is, what would that do for soccer in North America?
It’s important to start off by saying that interest in soccer in North America has come in leaps and bounds over the last two decades. The arrival of some of the world’s biggest players in the MLS has helped expedite the process and has ultimately given soccer a presence in a region that is devoted to American football, basketball, and indeed baseball. In fact, you only need to look at the latest sports betting Canada and American soccer markets to see the intense coverage that the sport is given nowadays due to the demand from those in the region. Bodog, for instance, provides up-to-date odds on the Premier League's outright winner market for North American soccer fans, with Manchester City currently given a price of just -175 by the Canadian bookmaker to win the league.
With that being said, there is, however, a growing feeling that this interest has somewhat stagnated recently owing to the fact that there aren’t enough North Americans competing at the summit of the game, which as briefly alluded to, is in the English Premier League. Essentially, there needs to be a figure who defies the age-old narrative around North Americans and soccer in order to take the game to the next level.
This is where Marsch has an opportunity to rewrite the manual on coaching by adding America to where the most successful philosophies in the world originate from. Of course, the 48-year-old’s style is influenced by his time in Austria and Germany but at the core of his ideas is an American steeliness that involves his team fighting for one another.
Interestingly, we’ve seen that very trait in stirring wins for Leeds against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Norwich City at the back end of last season when the Whites were fighting to avoid relegation. To Marsch’s credit, he was able to keep Leeds up but his style came under intense scrutiny with fans unconvinced that there was a greater game plan at play. Ironically, it was this blood and thunder approach that ensured Leeds were able to retain their Premier League status but Marsch was wise to the discontent and promised fans a more organized approach after a full pre-season with his players.
With the 2022/2023 season having now started, we will soon see if the only American manager in the Premier League is able to do what no one from North America could before him by becoming one of the most astute coaches in the globe's most demanding tournament. Should Marsh be successful then interest in soccer in North America will surely skyrocket.