Leeds United: Monk’s credentials stack up under close scrutiny

Garry Monk
Garry Monk
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GARRY MONK will be acutely aware that a manager’s most recent fate leaves the most lasting impression.

After just one win in 11 Premier League games, the Swansea City boss was sacked in December 2015.

Delve a little deeper, though, and you’ll find a record-breaking manager who was touted for the England job – having also won both a Championship play-off final and a League Cup as a player.

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Monk, 37, remains the hot-favourite to succeed outgoing Whites head coach Steve Evans who was dismissed controversially by Leeds chairman Massimo Cellino on Tuesday evening.

Evans was given the boot in spite of guiding United to a 13th-place finish having inherited a side that were one point above the dropzone.

“We have decided that a different approach is required in order to achieve our targets for the new season,” said the Italian.

It seems clear that, initially, that different approach meant MK Dons manager Karl Robinson or Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke – both of whom shunned Cellino’s advances in preference for staying with their current clubs.

What prompted the shift of attention towards Monk is unclear – a man who had not even been in the betting for the Leeds job – yet the 37-year-old’s credentials are actually pretty easy to make loud and clear.

Firstly, having been relieved of his duties at Swansea last December, Monk is a free agent meaning no complications over compensation or pay-off fees.

What would then appeal most about the former centre-back is up to Cellino but, essentially, if the Italian is looking for positives, he can take his pick.

Monk’s last game in charge of Swansea proved to be a 3-0 loss at home to Leicester City on Saturday, December 5. Riyad Mahrez bagged a hat-trick and that result doesn’t look half as bad as it did then.

Nevertheless, the Foxes setback extended Swansea’s torrid run to one win 11 league games – and that victory came at hapless Aston Villa in October.

Swansea were left 15th after the Leicester loss and two points above the dropzone and Monk was sacked, though chairman Huw Jenkins admitted it was with great hesitation that he was letting the 37-year-old go.

“The decision has been made very reluctantly and with a heavy heart,” said Jenkins, and with good reason too.

Because Monk’s previous 10 years at Swansea, and especially the last two as manager, were no doubt still high in the chairman’s memory.

Established centre-back and former captain Monk was appointed player/manager by Jenkins on February 4, 2014, the day after the club’s 2-0 loss at West Ham United which proved Michael Laudrup’s last game in charge.

The Swans were still sitting 12th in the table but only two points off the dropzone ahead of a derby date hosting of Cardiff who were 19th.

Monk immediately worked the oracle as goals from Wayne Routledge, Nathan Dyer and Wilfried Bony sealed a 3-0 victory. That success looked like being a false dawn as a run of eight games without a victory followed – including at Napoli in the Europa League.

But a 2-2 draw with Arsenal was followed by a 3-0 defeat of visiting Norwich as part of a strong end to the season which yielded 22 points from a possible 34 and better still nine out of a possible 12 from the last four games.

Immediately speaking, it was a sign of things to come as the following season began with a 2-1 victory at Manchester United as Swansea won their first three games.

Monk was named August’s manager of the month and the good times that season continued to roll.

Across league and cup, Swansea recorded 19 victories from 43 games with February’s 2-1 defeat of Manchester United completing a Red Devils double. The Welsh team also picked up six points against Arsenal and went on to achieve the club’s best-ever finish of eighth with a best-ever points total of 56. Monk, young for a manager, was even touted as a future England boss and the following season began with a five-game unbeaten run, culminating with another defeat of Manchester United through a 2-1 verdict in Swansea on August 30.

It was hard to imagine then but that game proved Monk’s last home game in charge as the barren 12-game run then followed; a run that has left Monk the free agent that he is today.

But already the former defender has been linked with the jobs at Aston Villa, Fulham and Bristol City and should the former centre-back’s second spell of management come in the Championship – then the Bedford-born former Swans boss will carry crucial knowledge of how to win promotion to the Premier.

Having failed to reach the Championship play-offs in both 2009 (eighth) and 2010 (seventh), Swansea finished third in 2011 and saw off Nottingham Forest in the play-offs semi-final.

Monk then captained Swansea to beat Reading 4-2 in the final to achieve promotion to the Premier.

Success marked his third promotion at Swansea with Monk’s Swans days beginning down in League Two in 2004 upon switching from Barnsley. For Monk, it proved a move made in heaven, nine years after beginning his career at Torquay United from where he switched to Southampton for eight years during which he had loan spells at Torquay, Stockport County, Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley.

After becoming captain of Swansea, Monk released an autobiography in 2012 – and the following season he had a League Cup winners’ medal to boast about, having beaten Bradford City 5-0 to bag Swansea’s first major hour in their 101-year history.

Now he could be asked to end an even bigger club’s 14-year exile from the top flight.

‘Loud, Proud and Positive’ was the name of Monk’s 2012 book. Time, perhaps, for a new chapter at Elland Road.

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