Kalvin Phillips on how Leeds United built on Garry Monk's foundations ahead of Sheffield Wednesday clash

KALVIN PHILLIPS says Leeds United will be building on the foundations built by former boss Garry Monk in a bid to defeat his Sheffield Wednesday side in today’s Championship Yorkshire derby at Elland Road.

By Lee Sobot
Saturday, 11th January 2020, 6:00 am
THE WAY WE WERE: Kalvin Phillips with the EFL's young player of the month award for November 2016 next to his former Leeds United head coach Garry Monk.
THE WAY WE WERE: Kalvin Phillips with the EFL's young player of the month award for November 2016 next to his former Leeds United head coach Garry Monk.

Monk steered the Whites to their highest finish in six years as United ended the 2016-17 season in seventh before departing to later take over at Middlesbrough.

Two-and-a-half years on, Monk now brings his eighth-placed Sheffield Wednesday side to Elland Road but Phillips has not forgotten the influence his former manager had in developing United and, also, the midfielder’s own game.

Phillips made 23 league starts in what was a breakthrough season under Monk and he now hopes the current crop of players can show the Owls boss just what those initial foundations have led to this afternoon.

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“Garry Monk was very enjoyable,” said Phillips.

“He was the first manager to give me over 20 games, he had faith in me and, obviously, I respected that.

“He’s a great manager. I know it will be a tough game this weekend and he’ll have Sheffield Wednesday up in our faces but, hopefully, we can deal with that.

“He did very well with us, he kind of put us on the map and built our foundations and, hopefully, we can build on that and do well against him.”

Leeds approach the derby encounter sat top of the Championship and ahead of second-placed West Brom on goal difference. More importantly, though, they have a nine-point cushion on the division’s automatic promotion spots.

Fourth-placed Nottingham Forest would cut the gap to six points if they win their game in hand at home to Reading on January 22.

Leeds are no bigger than 1-12 to seal automatic promotion to the Premier League and Phillips says his side have been spurred on by last season’s late collapse and near miss.

United spent the majority of Bielsa’s first season in charge in the top two only to fall away in the final month to finish third.

Defeat in the play-offs semi-finals to Derby County then brought a miserable end to an otherwise spectacular campaign.

“Last year there were just a couple of buzzes around thinking we are up and it just wasn’t meant to be,” said Phillips.

“With what happened at the end of the season, going out in the play-offs, I think it hurt us very deep but it just fuelled the fire to do even better this season.

“We have come in, we have worked harder and people say we are nine points clear but we don’t really think like that.

“We want to win every game we can and hopefully we can do that from now until the end of the season.”