Leeds United: Cooper keen to impress ‘brilliant’ new boss Monk

Liam Cooper.
Liam Cooper.
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Leeds United defender Liam Cooper has described the appointment of head coach Garry Monk as “brilliant” – and made an early return to fitness training in an effort to keep himself in the frame under United’s new boss.

Cooper spoke briefly with Monk at Thorp Arch last week and said he expected the 37-year-old to make big demands of the squad when they return for the start of pre-season later this month.

Monk was confirmed as Leeds’ head coach a fortnight ago, replacing Steve Evans and returning to management six months after his sacking at Swansea City.

Cooper said he was “absolutely over the moon” to see Monk arrive and claimed the appointment of a former centre-back would help enhance his own game after two years at Elland Road.

Evans was the fifth first-team boss to depart United since Cooper joined from Chesterfield for £600,000 in August 2014 but Monk brought with him a reputation as one of the leading young coaches in the country following his 18-month spell in charge of Swansea in the Premier League.

His backroom team was strengthened last night with the appointment of Spaniard Pep Clotet as assistant boss and the arrival of a new goalkeeping coach in former Southend United and Bournemouth player Darryl Flahavan.

Cooper told the club’s official website: “We’ve had a quick word and he seems brilliant. He’s told me what he’s going to demand and we’ve got to be ready for that. I was buzzing personally when I found out. He was a centre-half and he likes to play football so I think I’m going to learn a lot. His experience speaks volumes. He’s a great guy for the job and I’m absolutely over the moon.”

Cooper said he had already completed a number of fitness sessions at Thorp Arch and was planning to joining Luke Murphy and Sol Bamba in doing more work with Sean Rush, United’s fitness coach. The 24-year-old said he had been “guilty of doing nothing” in the build-up to previous pre-season schedules and was anxious to avoid “ending up way behind” when Monk’s programme begins.

Leeds are still to announce any first-team friendlies but the club’s players are expected to report back in the week beginning June 27.

“I took three weeks off but I’ve had a couple of days back in the gym,” Cooper said. “Me, Murph and Sol are going to go out and do a bit with Sean. It’s a pre-pre-season.

“I’ve been guilty of doing nothing before and there’s nothing worse. You only harm yourself and you end up way behind.

“I’ve had a word with the manager and the standard is going to be high. He’s going to demand a lot from the players and we’re going to demand a lot from each other. I think it’s going to be very good.”

Monk is continuing to work on finalising a schedule of fixtures for pre-season.

Leeds have been considering the possibility of tours to Ireland and Scotland but are yet to finalise any games. The offer of a training camp in Philadelphia was turned down by United earlier in the summer.