Garry Monk has hit back at criticism from Reading manager Jaap Stam, saying he felt “embarrassed” for the Dutchman after Stam accused Leeds United of employing negative tactics.
Stam slated United’s style of play in the wake of a frustrating night at Elland Road on Tuesday which saw Reading retain 77 per cent of possession but succumb to a 2-0 defeat.
The former Manchester United defender was outwitted by Monk as Leeds’ head coach rode a selection crisis by flooding his midfield and picking Reading off with a 19th-minute goal from Chris Wood and an injury-time penalty from Souleymane Doukara.
The visitors’ inability to work United out brought taunts of ‘boring, boring Reading’ from the Elland Road crowd as possession moved around amongst Stam’s defence. Centre-backs Liam Moore and Paul McShane made over 100 passes each and more between them than Leeds’ entire team combined.
Reading’s dominance of the ball resulted in only two shots on target but asked about the crowd’s jeering, Stam said: “If you think this is boring then I think they need to have a look at their own team and how they play.
“They can say ‘we won’ and of course at the end it’s about the result but if you need to play like that then I don’t want to be a manager. I don’t want to play and just wait and wait and wait. That’s not my type of playing, my type of tactics.
“You can say congratulations to Garry Monk, he got the result and everyone wants results, but in terms of way of playing it’s not my cup of tea.”
Monk responded today by saying: “It doesn’t really bother me too much but I felt a little bit embarrassed for him to be saying those type of comments.
“We all want to win games. Sometimes when we don’t win, afterwards emotions are still high and it’s hard to hide your disappointment. It doesn’t affect us at all. We were very happy with our performance and we were the most dangerous team on the pitch. We were clinical and we had the best chances, two goals and a clean sheet. That’s all we’re focused on.”
It doesn’t really bother me too much but I felt a little bit embarrassed for him to be saying those type of comments”Garry Monk on Jaap Stam
Monk went into Tuesday’s match against a Reading side who are third in the Championship with a significantly weakened squad after a ban incurred by Kalvin Phillips added him to an absentee list including Eunan O’Kane and Pablo Hernandez. Striker Marcus Antonsson was lost to a back problem ahead of the game and a hamstring strain suffered by top scorer Wood on 30 minutes forced Monk to throw on Liam Bridcutt a week after the midfielder’s return from a three-month lay-off.
United’s strategy against Reading replicated the approach last month’s League Cup quarter-final defeat at Liverpool, where Monk’s side sat deep and tried to threaten on the break, and Wood’s early goal left Reading with the challenge of playing through a congested midfield.
Stam’s side finally threatened in the closing stages, drawing fingertip saves from Rob Green through Roy Beerens and Yann Kermorgant, but Doukara sealed United’s win after Chris Gunter tripped Charlie Taylor inside Reading’s box.
“I was pleased to see that we could adapt,” Monk said. “I’ve got three ways of looking at games - where we set up to attack, where we set up to protect and where we set up to use a balance of both. You’ve seen games this season where we’ve used all three.
“In the Reading game we set up to protect and we did the same at Liverpool. The performance levels were extremely high, exactly what we wanted to deliver, and it went to plan. When we choose to attack, the best examples are our two games against Norwich. The balance in between you’ve seen in the majority of our games but as a manager you have to pick what’s best.
“It’s great for the future of this group that they can adapt, take on different game plans and execute them to a high level. We put on a very good performance, we won the game deservedly, everyone could see that and we move on. We know what we’re trying to do and as long as we keep delivering, it’s all we need to worry about.”
Asked if he felt Leeds deserved more credit from Stam, Monk said: “The credit comes from within. Our supporters appreciated the way we set up. Circumstances dictated that but they understood our game plan well. The most important thing is that the players trust everything we’re doing and they’re coming through with flying colours.
“This my view on football. The majority of our games will be about finding the right balance between attack and defence. At other times it’ll tip the scales either way. I always feel as a manager that a big bonus to have is to be adaptable. It shows a high skill level to be a player who can adapt and play in different ways.”
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