Garry Monk praised his players for exceeding expectation and said this season had laid the ground for Leeds United’s return to the Premier League as the club looked to land another blow in the play-off race with a win at Newcastle United tonight.
Garry Monk praised his players for exceeding expectation and said this season had laid the ground for Leeds United’s return to the Premier League as the club looked to land another blow in the play-off race with a win at Newcastle United tomorrow night. onk reflected on a highly-productive first season as head coach and voiced confidence that the progress made under him had pointed Leeds in the direction of promotion “whether it’s this season, next season or the season after.”
The 38-year-old became the 12th first-team boss employed by United since the club’s relegation from the Premier League in 2004 but he is close to delivering promotion at the first attempt having guided his squad to within five games of the play-offs.
Leeds are fifth in the division and could open up an eight-point advantage over Fulham in seventh if the Championship’s Good Friday fixtures go their way later, a margin which would virtually guarantee their involvement in the play-offs.
Monk insisted again that he had not considered mathematical permutations and said he was putting no pressure on his side to secure their qualification quickly but the former Swansea City manager believes Leeds have decisively turned the corner after a long period of stagnation.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s televised game at St James’ Park, Monk said:
“We’ve got an opportunity to make a play-off place and to fight for promotion within that. Whether it’s this season, next season or the season after, what was important was putting foundations in place that can be built upon.
“The ambition will always be there and the expectation of this club will always be to get back in the Premier League. That’s what we’re trying to do but whether it comes this season, it’s important that we’ve got foundations which give hope and confidence for the future.
“(Promotion) will always be the ambition but I said at the start that it doesn’t just happen. You can’t just click your fingers. There’s a lot of work to be done. What this season has done is put foundations in place which will hopefully allow it to happen in the future.
“Overall we’ve exceeded expectation. This group’s improved drastically. I always knew they would improve but you can never tell how quickly you can accelerate it. The environment we have pushes them and they’ve come on leaps and bounds. It’s not been easy but the attitude and commitment has been 100 per cent. A lot of people deserve a lot of credit.”
Leeds could confirm their qualification for the play-offs as early as Easter Monday, when they meet Wolverhampton Wanderers at Elland Road, but Monk said: “I don’t think you can predict football. We’re not mathematically sat here thinking ‘we need this many wins to secure it’ or thinking we need to secure it early. We have to focus on each and every game and see where we lie after that.”