NEIL WARNOCK has described opposite number Garry Monk as his “manager of the season so far” as the 68-year-old prepares to take his Cardiff City side back to Elland Road.
Warnock had 14 months in charge of Leeds between February 2012 and April 2013 and will return to Leeds for the first time since come Saturday afternoon’s Championship clash at Elland Road.
And the veteran manager has been wholesome in his praise of both Monk and Leeds as a whole in his post-match press conference in south Wales.
Monk has United on course for their best ever season since relegation from the Premier League in 2004 and Warnock said: “Monk’s done a great job. Probably my manager of the season so far.”
Warnock added: “Leeds have an unbelievable crowd.
“We had a decent cup run when I was there. We beat Spurs, Everton and then played Chelsea.
“The first half reminded what it must’ve been like in the Champions League. It’s a great atmosphere, it’s a bit like Cardiff. They’re all in one town.
“People want to talk about their own club and they’re a massive club. I tried to get someone to buy Ken Bates out, It took me six months and it turned out they didn’t have a penny.
”They’re the biggest club outside the Premier League fans wise and in terms of facilities.”
Warnock never managed Leeds under Italian owner Massimo Cellino whose Whites tenure began ten months after Warnock’s departure in February 2015.
“I like him,” said Warnock, asked about Cellino.
“I met him a few times, I had a great relationship with Gianni Paladini at QPR. they’re passionate Italians, he understands how much the club means to them now, I’ve seen a change over the last few months and I think Garry has calmed it down a bit.”
Asked for his views on Monk’s touchline spat with Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner last Sunday, Warnock quipped: “I don’t condone action like that on the touchline. I do say that with tongue firmly in cheek!”
Warnock also hailed the effect that United’s fans have had on Sol Bamba who will line up against his old club on Saturday afternoon.
Bamba made 56 appearances for Leeds and was appointed club captain under Uwe Rosler in 2015, a position that Monk allowed the centre-back to keep following his appointment as head coach last June.
But after falling down the centre-back pecking order, Bamba was then released by Leeds in September 1 and joined Cardiff under former Whites boss Neil Warnock eight days later.
Bamba has been a regular in the Bluebirds side since and will will face the unfamiliar prospect of heading for the away dressing room come Saturday afternoon.
“Their fans did me a great job really,” said Warnock. “They kept saying on their internet forums that he’s an accident waiting to happen.
“They were saying ‘You Cardiff fans, wait until you see him make a blunder’. I keep pinning them up on the board and letting him read them every week just to remind him to play the game simple.
“I owe Leeds fans quite a lot for the way Bamba is playing at the minute.”