Uwe Rosler was a team-mate of Garry Monk at Southampton. The two get on well, but the former head coach of Leeds United and the current one both have a point to prove tonight. Phil Hay reports.
Rosler survived at Elland Road for a mere 12 games last season and on that basis might have been a sounding board for Monk when United’s current head coach was weighing up a job offer from Massimo Cellino in June. Monk preferred to take his own view and make his own decision, avoiding any opinions which might have “clouded” his judgement.
The pair will be reacquainted tonight during a League Cup first-round tie at Fleetwood Town, Leeds’ first ever meeting with a League One club who were miles down the English pyramid when Monk and Rosler became team-mates at The Dell in 2000. Rosler was appointed as Fleetwood’s manager 10 days ago, his first job since leaving Leeds.
“I know Uwe well,” Monk said. “At the end of his playing career he came to Southampton. It’ll be good to see him.” Did he think about picking up the phone to Rosler before taking the job at United? “No. When I meet people or when I’m going into a situation, I like to make my own judgements. I don’t want that to be clouded by anyone else.
“I came here without speaking to anyone, to make my own mind up, and I think that’s the best way to work. That was pretty much the process.” As a coach who lasted for a matter of months at Leeds, Rosler might have a score to settle this evening. “He’ll be wanting to win the game for his reasons,” said Monk, “and I’ll be wanting to win the game for mine.”
After Sunday’s defeat to Queens Park Rangers, as frustrating a start to the season as Monk could have envisaged, that is certainly true. Monk, like Rosler and others, will be judged on United’s form in the Championship rather than their progress in knockout competitions but tonight’s tie is a quick chance to put his squad on the straight and narrow. Monk said he saw “apprehension” in the first half of a 3-0 loss at QPR but is confident of addressing it quickly.
The League Cup in any case is a competition which he has fond memories of. He appeared as a substitute for Swansea City in the 2013 final, contributing to a 5-0 win which ended Bradford City’s feted adventure and gave Swansea their first major trophy. “That was part of a process which the club (Swansea) had been on for a number of years,” Monk said. “It was the pinnacle after winning all those promotions, the pinnacle of that journey.
“But it’s gone, it’s done. It’s a good memory but it’s not something I’m focused on. I want this group to be successful, to have good times and enjoy their football. I want to get the first win on the board. I want to win every game. That’s my mentality and it’s how we have to be as a club. I don’t look at things as less or more likely.
“You have to be clever in using the whole squad and making sure the freshness is there but as I said at the start of the season, we have to win. We have to win games.”
A lack of victories was Rosler’s undoing at Leeds, much as the axe fell on him quickly. He left his post on October 19 after two victories from 11 league fixtures and a League Cup first-round defeat at Doncaster Rovers.
Rosler, who insisted Fleetwood would be under “no pressure” tonight, said: “I never saw it (the sack at Leeds) coming, especially after being given the targets for the season by the owner. We were right where we should be.
“I don’t think you can measure me at all on 11 games. I felt we delivered on what we got hired to do. We got hired to keep the team in the division. We were never in the bottom four, we made some good Championship signings – players for the short term, medium term and long-term future of the club.
“In general the situation was not easy when we took over but we unified the squad and we had a decent start. We played a lot of teams in the top half of the table and just after we left there were all the teams from the lower part of the table. Unfortunately we did not get the time to use that advantage.
“But I never have any regrets about taking (a job at a) club like Leeds United. When you are an ambitious coach or manager and you get offered that job and you are not taking it, in the later stages of your life you will have regrets.
“It was a long time ago now, it’s coming up to a year ago, and I moved on and the club moved on. I have no problems with that. I had a good time and I really enjoyed my work there.”
Fleetwood scraped clear of the relegation by five points last season and the feeling that all was not quite right there seemed to be confirmed when the club parted company with former manager Steven Pressley days before the start of this season. Pressley’s exit cleared the way for Rosler’s return to management, 10 months after his departure from Leeds.
“The underdog tag can be a motivation but I don’t see them as underdogs,” Monk said. “I see us as very even at the moment. It’s a 0-0 scoreline, you both have 11 players and you both want to win.
“If we do our best I’m positive we can get a result but it’ll be a tough game.”