Brenden Aaronsohn’s only disappointment from his Premier League debut is that he won’t be listed as a winner, not that he’ll accept that it was an own goal. Jesse Marsh made the American his first Leeds signing, forcing his compatriot to join six days after they failed to survive in the Premier League.
The striker showed everything a new Leeds should be with his relentless ball handling and skill before essentially forcing Ryan Ait-Nouri into his own net. The ease of survival on the Elland Road was replaced by hope for the success of the American Revolution.
Leeds are far from a finished product under Marsh, but that they were able to fight off a goal deficit and not concede a second when under intense pressure will be very important for a team that won three times at home last season.
Aaronson was the conductor who set the pace for his new teammates, offering the intensity Marsh demanded. The head coach, appointed in February, has played a full preseason with his team and brought in players who can fit into his 4-2-2-2 formation.
“I am very happy that we look like a team that understands what tactics and ideas are with the ball, much better than we were last year, it was a big fight to try to implement tactically what we wanted to achieve,” he said.
“We still have a lot of work to do. The three points confirm our pre-season preparation and the work we have done.”
One of those summer players, Rasmus Christensen, was hailed in the Premier League in the sixth minute when Pedro Neto knocked him off his shoulder, allowing the Portuguese to go to the back post, and Hwang Hee-chan headed into the path of Daniel Podense acrobaticly missed the ball in ground and past Illan Melier over the bar.
The frenetic crowd eventually reverberated across the pitch as the attacking Leeds players began to circle and move at pace. Aaronsohn’s deflected shot went several inches to give an idea of his skill. Fans were thrilled by Leeds’ improvement and Wolves’ melodrama, even more excited when goalkeeper José Sa crashed into Christensen in the box without getting close to the ball. Judge Robert Jones and those who had access to the replay, oddly enough, decided that it was not worth punishing.
“After the ball went, Rasmus was thrown out,” Marsh said. “It should have been a penalty.”
Wolves somehow managed to make three errors in seconds, allowing Leeds to equalize. Ait-Nuri was first tackled while attempting a 180-degree turn before a run by Ruben Neves was blocked, allowing Rodrigo to collect the pieces and hit the ball under Sa at a sharp angle.
One of the key Leeds players missing for most of last season was Patrick Bamford, who showed his worth to the team when he spun to get into the box and land a perfect low cross that resulted in Ait-Nuri putting the ball into his own gate under pressure from the opponent. Aaronson, but the American hopes to take him.
“Brenden did a good job,” Marsh said. “He was active, lively and dangerous throughout the match.”
Bamford and Aaronson were substituted with less than 10 minutes left and rightfully received applause. Marsh and Leeds fans will be hoping – and even being a bit optimistic – that this isn’t the last time the duo will lift them up from their seats this season.
Even if the scorecard says otherwise, Aaronson thinks his debut was perfect. “I touched it, I was there, and somewhere there it came off my shins,” he said. “I take responsibility for this.”
Marsh, aware of the importance of a winning start, went for a lap of honor after the final whistle when he shared an angry exchange with his Wolves counterpart.
“In the first half I heard something that I didn’t like,” said Bruno Lage. “I believe that there are things that cannot be talked about. When he came to talk to me at the end, I said there are things you just can’t say.”