’Fear and stress’ among Leeds United players as Everton’s survival hopes get huge boost

Leeds United, Watford and Norwich City all suffered defeats to ease Everton’s relegation woes.
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Jesse Marsch has admitted he ‘underestimated the stress’ Leeds United’s players are under in their Premier League relegation battle.

Everton’s survival hopes were given a huge hope last night, with three of their rivals at the foot of the table losing.

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Leeds opted to sack Marcelo Bielsa and replace him with Marsch last month - yet they’ve been beaten in all three games under the American so far.

The Whites were put to the sword 3-0 by Aston Villa at Elland Road.

Everton, who are 17th, sit one place behind Leeds but have three games in hand.

Marsch told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I underestimated the stress of the moment from the players’ perspective.

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“We’ve had a very good week, 10 days together, I’ve tried to create clarity for how we want to play and the behaviours we want and the tactics, but it was clear from the beginning that we lacked confidence and aggression in the match.

“I’ve heard a lot about the Elland Road crowd and I thought it was fantastic from the beginning but I could see that the players want to do so well so badly that it brings almost more pressure and stress.

“From the beginning I said we had to stay calm and be clear, that’s a message we have to stay strong with.

“When we step on the field we need to know that the fear will ensure failure, it won’t protect us from failure. We have to be fearless, attack and go after opponents. That’s the biggest lesson for me from what happened tonight.”

‘Running out of time’

Watford manager Roy Hodgson. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty ImagesWatford manager Roy Hodgson. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images
Watford manager Roy Hodgson. Picture: Clive Mason/Getty Images
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Meanwhile, Watford’s woes continued as they were thrashed 4-0 at Wolves.

The Hornets are 19th and Everton are three points ahead - having played three games fewer.

Vicarage Road boss Roy Hodgson admits his side are running out of time to retain their top-flight status.

“It was disappointing in every respect,” Hodgson told BBC Sport.

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“We have a very sad dressing room. That is what we sign up for. It gets hard when your players don’t care enough, but we are not in that position yet.

“We have to hold our hands up that we are not good enough at times, but not that they don’t care.

“All the goals are mistakes, some are clearer mistakes than others. These players need to feel anxiety because we are running out of time.”

‘Willing to go and scrap’

Dean Smith reacts during Norwich’s loss to Chelsea. Picture: Stephen Pond/Getty ImagesDean Smith reacts during Norwich’s loss to Chelsea. Picture: Stephen Pond/Getty Images
Dean Smith reacts during Norwich’s loss to Chelsea. Picture: Stephen Pond/Getty Images

Norwich are cut five points adrift of Everton on 17 points and played three games more after a 3-1 loss to Chelsea.

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Dean Smith has urged his Canaries troops to scrap for their lives ahead of a crucial game against Leeds on Sunday.

Smith told Norwich’s website: “I said to the lads at half-time that we needed to go and fight and prove to our supporters that we’re willing to go and scrap to remain in the Premier League.

“We changed the system and changed personnel and I thought it worked. Our attitude was better.

“We were front foot, got up to people and put them on their backsides sometimes when we needed to. I don’t think there was enough of that in the first half, it was too passive.

“I’m so glad that it was the second half that we put in that performance rather than the first half, going into Leeds.”

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