WITH A Championship finish of seventh and a 50 per cent win rate, Leeds United will take on their most successful manager of the last 10 years during Boxing Day’s trip to Preston.
With a 52 per cent win rate and Leeds riding high in fifth, Garry Monk might prove even more successful than Simon Grayson did.
But Monk says the Grayson sub-plot is of little consequence to his plans for Monday’s clash at Deepdale – other than in guaranteeing a “difficult game” against United’s manager of four years.
Grayson remains Leeds’ most successful manager of the last decade with United’s 2011 placing of seventh the best the Whites have managed in the Championship since Kevin Blackwell took United to fifth in 2006.
Ten years on, Monk has Leeds sat fifth ahead of Monday’s clash at Deepdale where a victory could even send the Whites third.
While there is still over half of the season remaining, Monk has put himself in a fine position to take Grayson’s mantle of United’s most successful boss of the last decade.
But the Leeds head coach admits the Ripon-born manager’s history with Leeds has nothing to do with him personally – with Monk concentrating solely on the challenge ahead at Deepdale, which, he says, with Grayson in charge will prove a difficult task.
“I remember Simon as a player and then going into management and seeing his career,” said Monk.
“He’s done well I think wherever he has gone.
“I’ve big respect for Simon and the job he has done himself as a manager. Having played against his teams over the years it was always difficult and now with the chance to manage against his teams I am sure it will be even more difficult.
“But it’s nothing to do with me and Simon.
“Simon is having his career and I am on my own path on my career.
“Yes, we come together and obviously he has a history here at this club and that’s between him and this club, that’s nothing to do with me.
“My job is to focus on my team, it’s a totally different situation here and different scenario and we are working towards something different on our way.
“I wish Simon all the best – after this game – but he’s obviously a very experienced manager and he’s done a great job at all of the clubs that he’s been.”
After a rocky start to the season which saw North End take just three points from a possible 18, Preston are now 11th having lost just one of their last six league games.
Only leaders Newcastle United have won at Deepdale since September.
“They have had a very good season,” warned Monk.
“Preston is always notoriously a difficult place to go and get results.
“It will be a difficult game for us but as I always say we are here to focus on ourselves.
“We respect the opponent and identify their strengths and of course try and exploit their weaknesses but really it’s about ourselves.
“We know we are a team that can’t afford to be anything less than 100 per cent so we are going to have to go there determined and committed to our performance and try and get the right result.”