Leeds United: Under pressure Monk staying upbeat

Garry Monk
Garry Monk
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Garry Monk has insisted that Leeds United had shown signs of steady improvement through his four games in charge but refused to make a plea for time in his job as head coach, saying: “That’s out of my hands”.

Monk and his players head to Saturday’s Championship derby at Sheffield Wednesday looking for their first win of the Championship term and the United boss claimed he was satisfied with the progress of his squad, despite a return of one point from a possible nine.

An overhead kick from Chris Wood in injury-time averted a third straight league defeat to Fulham on Tuesday night – sparing Leeds’ from the worst start to a campaign in 80 years – and Monk said the late goal in a 1-1 draw had lifted his dressing room ahead of tomorrow’s fixture in Sheffield.

Monk described as “ridiculous” a schedule which will see Leeds play seven times this month and five times away from Elland Road but said he was confident his ideas and tactics were starting to fall into place. His comments came amid reports yesterday that the 37-year-old’s position is already under threat from owner Massimo Cellino.

Cellino, who has gone through six other head coaches in two-and-a-half years as majority shareholder, brought Monk to Elland Road at the start of June after dispensing with former boss Steve Evans.

“When the international break comes, it’s seven games in 20 days which is ridiculous to be honest with you,” Monk said. “It is what it is, the same for every club, but the frustrating part is that you don’t get a lot of time to work on the grass, to correct things. It’s difficult for any team but especially for a new team with new ideas. It takes time and it takes work.

“I understand it’s a relentless league and that it’s important to get results quickly to maintain confidence. It’s very much a case at the moment of the players learning everything in games. But I think so far you’ve seen an improvement in every game. Hopefully we can continue like that.”

Monk is little over two months into his role but a tough opening fortnight of the campaign saw his side barracked at the end of defeats to Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City.

Wood came in for individual criticism over his performances - jeered from the pitch when Monk substituted him against Birmingham - and he reacted to his dramatic equaliser on Tuesday by cupping his ear towards Elland Road’s Kop.

Asked when it would be fair to judge his team and his management, Monk said: “That’s out of my hands. I’ll be judged by you guys. It’ll be the media who’ll judge the time that’s appropriate.

“That’s not for me. My job is to work every day and to try and improve the players every day, to get to a point where we’re successful and can achieve the ambition we want. That’s what we’re all here for.

“That’s how I look at it and it’s no easy process. It’s very difficult but the guys’ attitude to improve and understand what they need to do better is very clear for me to see. We’re trying to show that in the games. I am sure you’ll see that in the coming games.

“We need to get better and do it in the quickest time possible but I’m trying to find that balance where we can get results in the meantime whilst we develop the other side of it.”

Monk, meanwhile, said he had no problem with Wood’s gesture towards the fans after the striker’s goal on Tuesday, saying: “Whatever motivates you. Whatever you feel. Those situations happen.

“It was with no ill intention. It was to show that he’s motivated, ready to score goals and do well for that shirt.”

Young Leeds United midfielder Alex Purver - a player who featured in a number of pre-season friendlies - has joined non-league Guiseley on loan until January.