GARRY MONK insists he has full confidence in his faltering Leeds United team, declaring: “they don’t quite see how good they can be”.
The United head coach was furious in the aftermath of Saturday’s 2-1 loss at home to Birmingham City, blaming a “soft” mentality following the club’s second successive league loss of the new campaign.
That defeat means United are still without a point ahead of tonight’s home clash with Fulham, but Monk gave his men a ringing endorsement at yesterday’s pre-match press conference and predicted a swift change of fortunes in the coming weeks.
He also issued a strong vote of confidence in striker Chris Wood whose weekend substitution was greeted by Elland Road cheers.
Asked if he stood by his comments in the aftermath of Saturday’s Birmingham loss, Monk reasoned: “After games and in those situations you are frustrated, everyone is – the players as much as myself.
“But I am very honest with them, I am very open and nothing gets said that I don’t tell them myself. I am here to look after them, I am here to give them everything and every opportunity to perform and give them my experience.
“But I am not here to protect every two minutes. This is the real world we are living in and that’s what I want my team to be – in the real world and in the reality of everything and these young players need to go through that.
“They have my full support, confidence and trust, all of them and you can ask any of them that – they receive that on a daily basis.
“But we are not here to wrap anyone up in cotton wool, we are here to make these guys men and make them grow up very quickly and become the players that I believe they can become.
“I think the frustrating thing from the two (league) games that we have had is that at this moment in time, because they are a young group, they don’t quite see what I see in terms of how good they can be.
“This group can be so competitive and so talented. If we just give it a little bit more leadership from within, a little bit more experience to help these young players, I think we will see a really competitive team.
“That’s what we are working towards and I think you will see that in the coming weeks.”
United are close to adding experienced midfielder Liam Bridcutt to the squad after he underwent a medical at Thorp Arch last night ahead of his imove from Sunderland.
The 27-year-old, who was on loan at Leeds last season, is just the sort of ‘leader’ that United have been lacking but Monk is also optimistic of discovering new leaders from within.
He said: “The problem with modern day football now and I think everyone is accountable for it is we protect too much.
“We protect young players, we try and hide them and Academies hide them. They protect them too much and then when it comes to stepping into the real world which is first team football they are not ready for it.
“They have to go through these experiences and it’s not about losing confidence or taking confidence away from a player. If he has a bad game he’s going to lose confidence? No, not at all.
“He has to understand that is what he has to go through and that when he comes through it he’s going to be a better player for it.
“He is going to become that leader that we are looking for.”
The head coach is also standing firmly behind striker Wood – and insists he is unconcerned by the fact United have lost their first two league games.
“It’s not a concern at all,” said Monk.
“I’ve said all along that we are at the very start of our journey.
“We are talking about two games and let’s not get carried away with anything here.”
Turning his attention to Wood, Monk declared: “Chris is working extremely hard.
“He has had a very good pre-season and he is a great guy with the group and he’s a real talent as well.
“And it’s for us to help him put his talent on the pitch.
“Okay, for one game he might not have been at his best but that doesn’t mean that he can’t be in the next one.
“We all have to experience that. You have to be exposed to these situations – every player goes through it and Chris is a strong boy. He’s got a very good mentality and there will be no problems whatsoever.”
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