The Leeds manager had been under fire lately due to his team’s poor run of form.
Until last night, the Peacocks had only two wins in their last 17 outings but the American manager could breathe a sigh of relief after a win over Cardiff courtesy of a blistering performance from the young Italian international, Wilfried Gnonto.
The 19-year-old Gnonto took everyone at Elland Road by storm by opening the scoring inside 30 seconds. He scored a sumptuous scissor volley from a cross by Rodrigo and gave a dream start to a team who had entered the game after a string of disappointing results.
With Gnonto’s first goal, Leeds were now on course to end a run of seven winless matches in the FA Cup.
But Gnonto wasn’t done. The youngster who made the switch from FC Zurich to Leeds in 2022, scored his second goal in the 36th minute and could have scored the hat-trick but was denied by Cardiff’s goalkeeper, Jak Alnwick.
Gnonto was unstoppable. His searing pace was too hot to handle for the Cardiff defenders. He well may have worn the shirt which read, ‘Catch Me If You Can’ to alert the opposition defenders that on the night, he was simply not going to stop.
It looked like Gnonto was on a runner’s high, flowing with immense energy, and the same energy at times looked like it had gone out of bounds.
Gnonto already had two goals in his pocket and had the rigour to score countless more but when he didn’t, Gnonto diverted his energy into some on-pitch antics that made for great comedy.
After Leeds scored another goal, Gnonto went full bonkers. He rushed to the sideline and shook the steward as if shaking the branch of the tree, waiting for the apple to fall. The steward would surely have left the ground with hunched shoulders.
This wasn’t it. When Marsch gave him a note with instructions, he pretended to eat it after showing it to his teammate Patrick Bamford, who also scored twice after coming on from the bench in the second half.
His performance plus the added entertainment that he provided with his antics has impressed the Leeds fans who are now calling for more game time for the Italian youngster.
Gnonto has only one goal in seven Premier League games so far, but given his overall ecstatic performance against Cardiff, the young player is on song to become one of the most reliable forwards for Jesse Marsch.