Leeds United 2 Blackburn Rovers 1: Monk hails team spirit

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Garry Monk praised the “pure spirit” of his players and admitted a tough start to the season had seen him forget his principles after Leeds United brought their campaign under control with a late win over Blackburn Rovers.

An 87th-minute header from Kyle Bartley sealed a 2-1 victory at Elland Road last night as Leeds responded to an earlier equaliser from Marvin Emnes and came through a tense finish to climb out of the Championship’s relegation zone. Monk, who had faced questions about his job beforehand after Leeds took four points from their first six games, made a number of big decisions ahead of kick-off, dropping striker Chris Wood and rethinking his recent 4-4-2 formation.

Kyle Bartley celebrates scoring the winner.

Kyle Bartley celebrates scoring the winner.

Wood came off the bench to score the opening goal on 65 minutes and Leeds forced the pace of the game in wet conditions before substitute Emnes quietened Elland Road with a long-range finish.

Monk’s 4-2-3-1 system was more like the tactics his squad worked on throughout pre-season but that strategy was quickly abandoned by him after a poor run of results at the start of last month.

“If I’m totally honest with myself then this style is how we have to play,” said United’s head coach. “It’s the type of football I want to play. You saw it tonight.

“It’s my responsibility and I take it on the chin.

“Maybe I’ve sacrificed a bit of style for substance in recent games, to try and help the team and to limit mistakes. Maybe that’s not the way I want to do things.

“Tonight was the way I want to do it. That’s what we need to build on and believe in.

“That’s the type of manager I am and that’s the way I want us to play.”

Emnes’ 77th-minute strike put Leeds under pressure for the first time in the match and goalkeeper Rob Green pulled off two brilliant saves to keep the score level at 1-1 before Bartley snatched United’s first home win of the season.

The victory also owed much to a flying second-half display from winger Hadi Sacko.

“We’ve had a few frustrating few games but the character was excellent,” Monk said. “That’s what really stood out for me.

“We were in total control for 70 minutes and playing well.

“They got the equaliser and we started making the wrong decisions, making our own problems, but overall it was excellent.

“There was much more style to our game and the identity I’ve been talking about was there.

“These players have got pure spirit. You could see that.”

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