Andy Ritchie: Leeds United boss Monk gets my vote as manager of the season

Garry Monk.
Garry Monk.
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LEEDS United are still on course for the play-offs – even in spite of last weekend’s goalless draw with QPR.

It was a disappointing result and a little bit of a drop in form but at least Leeds are not losing. It would be more worrying if they were losing and they have now got a massive game at home to second-placed Brighton this evening.

Chris Wood.

Chris Wood.

Leeds captain Liam Bridcutt thinks that his side can still catch Brighton and I think that just shows the confidence within the squad. They have got that belief and there’s no doubt about that, you can see that in so many games this season. They have backed themselves and when they have had disappointments they have come bouncing back. That is the mark and the sign of a good side.

I don’t think that there’s any problem regarding making the play-offs and I definitely think they will end up in the top six. But I just feel that bridging the 11-point gap to second spot is unrealistic at this stage of the season.

Leeds have got to beat Brighton and then Brighton have got to lose those eight points as well, which is a lot.

But I definitely think Leeds can beat Brighton – I don’t see why not, especially at home.

Glenn Murray.

Glenn Murray.

Leeds have been magnificent at Elland Road, the crowd have been a massive factor and they always have been when you play at Leeds. When Leeds are playing well and they have got that backing at home as well as away, it’s a very intimidating place to play – and not only for the opposition but in recent years for the home team as well! Garry Monk will obviously come up against Brighton’s Chris Hughton today and the two could end up going head to head to be named Championship manager of the year.

But I don’t think it’s difficult at all to say who has done the better job – it’s Garry.

I’m not disrespecting Chris there but I think with everything that’s gone on at Leeds United off the pitch, I think you have definitely got to say that Garry has done the better job because he has had more to contend with.

Chris has done a fantastic job and so has Rafa Benitez at Newcastle, but I think everybody looking in from an outside point of view would have to say that Garry has bucked the trend at Leeds.

You’ll also have the battle of two good strikers today in Chris Wood against Glenn Murray and they are similar sort of players. Obviously Glenn is a bit more experienced. He has been around the block so to speak and knows what it’s all about but he leads the line well, just like Chris is learning to do.

He’s learning to become a top striker.

But they are very similar in their stature and in the way they play.

They hold the ball up well, they make good runs and obviously the two of them know where the net is.

Whether Chris is ready for the Premier League or not, I think the only way to find out is for him to be there.

I don’t think you can tell and I don’t think you can say ‘he is ready for it’ until he is there and it’s a very, very competitive place to be.

You have to be at your best every single game to be a top striker in the Premier League and I think hand on heart, you don’t know until you are actually there and you experience doing it.

Leeds will also be without Luke Ayling against Brighton as obviously Luke got booked in the last game before the cut off point against QPR. I might have been tempted to rest Luke against QPR.

Kyle Bartley was also walking the disciplinary tightrope but I think he is a different matter. He is a leader on the pitch, he’s a strong person for the squad and I think that playing Kyle was a no-brainer.

As regards Luke, I think Garry was probably thinking he would play the team that he would think would win.

And anyway with Luke picking up that yellow card, United have always got Charlie Taylor to come in and the side will be just as strong.

Kyle Bartley

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