Leeds United: Donaldson gives Monk a vote of confidence

Garry Monk.
Garry Monk.
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Garry Monk received a vote of confidence from Birmingham City striker Clayton Donaldson as he pondered his next move in the wake of Leeds United’s 2-1 defeat on Saturday.

Monk said his line-up at home to Fulham yesterday would consist of players who were willing to “step up” in response to his scathing assessment of their loss to Birmingham.

The United head coach laid into his squad after a weak second half allowed City to claim a 55th-minute winner through defender Michael Morrison and Leeds were back on the training ground today as Monk attempted to tackle the problems exposed by Birmingham.

Leeds are one of five Championship clubs who have failed to take a point from their opening two games and Fulham come to Elland Road on Tuesday as one of only three who have earned maximum points so far.

Yesterday, Monk made five changes to the team which began United’s campaign with a 3-0 loss away at Queens Park Rangers but a strong first half gave way to a tired second in which Birmingham began to dominate.

Asked if certain players would pay with their places against Fulham, Monk said: “You have to be a man very quickly. Everyone has to grow up very, very quickly.

“This is serious football, it’s men’s football and we’re in the business of trying to get results. It’s for everyone to step up. So they’ll make the decision, not me. If they step up and are men about it, they’ll play. If they don’t then they won’t play. Simple as that.

“It (his starting line-up yesterday) looked correct after the first half but bizarrely in the second half it was polar opposites. It’s for me to get to the bottom of that.

“That’s my job, I’m the manager and I have to understand these things. It’s for me to pick a side who’ll give us a complete performance for 90 minutes.”

Monk had called on Leeds to make Elland Road - a ground where the club went eight months without a win in 2015 - a “fortress” but Donaldson said he and Birmingham’s other players had been aware of tension in the air as yesterday’s match turned against Leeds.

City took an early lead through Jacques Maghoma before Hadi Sacko levelled just before the half-hour.

Bradford-born Donaldson, whose family are Leeds fans, said: “Before we scored you could feel the pressure. The crowd was behind them, getting louder and louder. You could see their tails going up.

“When we went 1-0 up it kind of slowed things down. The crowd weren’t as loud as they were before. It’s a great atmosphere here when you’re winning. It’s a shame that it’s not the same when you’re losing. That’s when you need the fans the most.”

Monk, who in June became Leeds’ seventh head coach in little over two years under owner Massimo Cellino, is three competitive games into his career at Elland Road.

Donaldson said: “It’s a running joke with Leeds United. I think when we went 1-0 up you could hear our away fans singing ‘you’re getting sacked in the morning.’ Obviously Monk has been in the Premier League recently. He’s a young manager and an English manager as well. You want to try and give those managers time.”