Garry Monk said “apprehension” was a factor in Leeds United’s heavy defeat to Queens Park Rangers but the club’s head coach vowed to eradicate those nerves as he looked ahead to tonight’s League Cup tie at Fleetwood Town.
Monk admitted that his players had been caught cold at Loftus Road on Sunday and said tension from the kick-off was partly to blame for a bad start to his reign as United boss. Leeds kicked off their Championship season with a 3-0 defeat in London, exiting the opening weekend of the campaign at the bottom of the table.
Monk accepted criticism of United’s performance but speaking ahead of this evening’s first-round tie against Uwe Rosler’s Fleetwood, he gave his young squad a vote of confidence and said their potential would show itself once an initial bout of nervousness lifted.
“In the first half especially we were maybe a little bit apprehensive,” Monk said. “In certain respects it’s quite natural for a new group with new ideas but I think that affected us in the first half. We never really got going.
“There’s lots of things to work on, we know that, but I’m sure you’ll see the right reaction.
“We’re very determined as a group to show what we’re capable of and as you guys saw through pre-season, the things we’ve worked on have come out on the pitch. We want to make sure we put that into a whole performance and that starts on Wednesday.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinions and you have to respect that but you can’t lose focus on what you’re doing. I don’t mind opinions at the end of games, We just try and focus on putting our best performances on the pitch. You’ll see that in the coming games.”
Monk gave a full debut to 18-year-old midfielder Ronaldo Vieira at Loftus Road, another of Leeds’ academy products, and a largely inexperienced 18-man squad contained six new signings.
Asked if the age of his players had contributed to an anxious display, Monk said: “That’s not an excuse but it’s a contribution for sure. It’s for me to help the players to overcome that. It’s one of the things I talked to the group about after the game.
“We focus on Wednesday now and we’re very determined to put on a performance that can kick-start our season. We’re very determined to show what we’re capable of.
“I see it on a daily basis. I see it with the attitude of the players and the quality they have. It’s now about making sure we take any apprehension out of them. Once they release themselves a little bit, you’ll see the performances of a really good team and really good players. You’ll see a team who can do very well in this league.
“We’re as disappointed as the fans were with the game (at QPR). There was no-one in that changing room afterwards who was happy at all with what we did. But you have to understand it’s a long journey that we’re on and we’re at the very start of it.”
Monk is continuing to push for further signings and while the club are haggling over a deal to bring Liam Bridcutt in from Sunderland, the United boss is understood to have made enquiries about another midfielder in the Premier League.
“I think it’s obvious that we need to strengthen,” Monk said. “I’m sure the club are working as hard as they can to make that happen and to do it as soon as we can. But my focus is on my players right now.”