Leeds United: Fixture list not high on agenda for Monk

Garry Monk
Garry Monk
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Leeds United head coach Garry Monk said his focus remains on a productive pre-season after the fixtures for the new Championship term threw up a televised trip to Queens Park Rangers on the opening day.

Monk described a visit to Loftus Road on Sunday, August 7 as a “good one for the players to try and get off to a good start” but insisted he was more concerned with the club’s preparation as his squad readied themselves for a return for training next week.

The 37-year-old has been in charge of United for exactly three weeks and his plans for pre-season are coming together after Leeds announced friendlies against Shelbourne, Shamrock Rovers and Peterborough United in the past 48 hours. The club are expected to make Kalmar’s Swedish striker Marcus Antonsson their first summer signing before the end of this week, beginning the influx of players which Monk hopes to see before the Whites line up against QPR.

The fixture list for the 2016-17 Championship campaign will see United avoid all three of the sides relegated from the Premier League – Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Norwich City – until November.

But Monk said: “The way I approach the season will always be one game at a time. I’ll make the players focus purely on that first game.

“We want to have a good pre-season now and it’s all about gearing up for that first game at QPR. When you look at fixture lists, certain games will mean certain things to different people. Certain players might look forward to playing teams they’ve had an attachment to or the fans might look forward to certain games more than others.

“For myself, it’s about putting this plan into pre-season, getting the good work done with the players, helping to improve the squad and getting us to a place so that when it comes to that QPR game we’re ready to have a really good start to the season.”

Monk has secured the appointment of assistant Pep Clotet, the Spaniard who worked as his number two at Swansea City, and former Southend United player Darryl Flahavan is joining the club as their new goalkeeping coach.

Monk said: “For the last two or three weeks I’ve been making sure we’re all prepared, we’re all organised and everything’s ready so that the players can hit the ground running when they step back in.

“We want it to be organised and clear for them with the plan that I have. We’ll get to work straight away. We’ll use pre-season to get them at their peak and get that knowledge into them and this different way of working which I have.”

Leeds and QPR finished last season a point and a place apart, with Rangers in 12th place and United in 13th.

Monk said: “The first game is a good one for the players to focus on and try and get off to a good start.”