GARRY Monk says Leeds United’s fanatical following will provide him with an extra incentive to succeed as head coach, saying of today’s hosts QPR: “if they’d have given us the whole ground we’d have sold it out”.
Monk is set for his first encounter with United’s fans in a competitive fixture at lunchtime when Leeds take on Queen’s Park Rangers at Loftus Road for their first Championship game of the new campaign.
Just over 3,000 Whites fans will greet Leeds and Monk in the away end – despite a 12 noon kick-off in London owing to TV coverage – but Monk says United’s loyal fan base is to be embraced and should be used as an advantage by his new-look Whites.
Leeds have often been accused of failing to produce the goods in front of huge Whites crowds – home or away – but Monk declared: “To me, it’s a motivation.
“To have that big a support and that many people willing you to do well and wanting you to achieve something is a motivation.
“My job is to make our players see that as well and understand that we use it as a motivation.
“It can be very difficult at big clubs with big support like that to perform, especially with young players.
“Sometimes it can work in the other way and it can be a negative.
“But I think if we use it in the right way and if the fans recognise these young players and support them and give them their full support and give the team their full support through the ups and downs of the Championship then I think that will be what benefits everyone the most.
“That’s when we will be able to get to somewhere where we can be successful. “I think what probably sums it up is that had QPR given us the whole ground we probably would have sold it to be honest - it’s that type of support you have.
“And that’s not even a joke to be honest, I think we would have.
“That’s the size of the support and how passionate they are and I’m just looking forward to it.”
Monk will be also be blessed with a fully fit squad to pick from in north London with Liam Cooper, Gaetano Berardi and new signing Pablo Hernandez all in contention to start.
Cooper and Berardi both missed last weekend’s final pre-season friendly against Atalanta at Elland Road through a calf tear and leg injury respectively but both players have returned to training at Thorp Arch.
Former Valencia and Swansea City Hernandez, meanwhile, was signed on loan from Qatari side Al-Arabi just five days ago but Monk has described the 31-year-old as “naturally a very fit player” and has no concerns about considering the former Spanish international to feature at Loftus Road.
United will come face to face with former striking favourite Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who has been in charge of the hosts since December 2015.
The Hoops are a best-priced 5-4 favorites, with United available at 11-4 and the draw on offer at 12-5.