Leeds United: Upbeat Monk appeals to fans to see ‘bigger picture’ ahead of final home game

Garry Monk
Garry Monk
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Garry Monk urged Leeds United’s players and supporters to focus on the “bigger picture” with the club’s season hanging on Saturday’s clash with Norwich City.

Garry Monk urged Leeds United’s players and supporters to focus on the “bigger picture” with the club’s season hanging on Saturday’s clash with Norwich City.

United’s head coach attempted to lift the mood after a shattering defeat to Burton Albion by promising to “finish on a high at Elland Road” in the last home fixture of the 2016-17 campaign.

Leeds have established their best home record in England’s second tier for almost 30 years but a 2-1 loss at Burton has staked everything on Norwich’s visit to Yorkshire, a game which will draw in another crowd of over 30,000.

Monk’s side, who are seventh in the Championship and three points adrift of sixth place, will be out of the running if they lose on Saturday due to Fulham’s vastly superior goal difference but Monk tried again to point to the progress made under him during a term in which Leeds emerged as surprise challengers.

The 38-year-old is crossing his fingers that Leeds can take their fight into the final match away at Wigan Athletic on May 7 but he said: “Elland Road will be a full house, packed. I think that shows the commitment and the bigger picture. Our fans have seen what the players have given and the players have seen what the fans have done. It’s come together.

“We want to make sure we finish at Elland Road on a high and go into the last game with hopefully a small chance.

Leeds held a play-off position for almost four months from November 26 onwards and sat eight points clear of seventh place after beating promoted Brighton on March 18 but Monk’s side were knocked out of the top six after by a 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Easter Monday.

The club travelled to Burton knowing nine points from their final three games would still guarantee a play-off place but Leeds succumbed to second-half goals from Marvin Sordell and Michael Kightly.

Asked if the pressure had affected his players, Monk said: “Possibly. A lot of this group have never been in this situation before but whatever happens it’s a learning process for them. They’re going to gain from it. The whole group will gain from this experience.

“We’ve been determined all season and we’ve been so competitive all season. There are things we all need to improve on, that’s clear and we’ve talked about that, but these experiences they’re going through - you look at the likes of Brighton who’ve done what they’ve done. That’s not come overnight. That’s come from two or three or four years of work.

“We’ve come so far in one season and we’ve got this last objective which is to try and fight for the biggest prize of all so it can feel very raw. It feels very raw right now and that’s how the players feel. I’m sure our fans do too but the overall picture is that this group has come so far in such a short space of time.”

Leeds, meanwhile, are to extend the deadline for applications for refunds on season-ticket payments if the club finish outside the Championship’s top six.

The club’s pricing structure for the 2016-17 term promised to pay back a portion of season-ticket money in the event that Leeds failed to qualify for the play-offs but originally set this Sunday, April 30, as the cut-off point for eligible fans to apply.

United are yet to issue the relevant forms, however, and plan to announce an extended deadline next week with their campaign still alive.

Around 14,500 tickets were sold for this season after Leeds guaranteed that a finish of seventh or lower would see 25 per cent of cash paid back to any supporters who bought before the end of May 2016. United were ready to refund 50 per cent if sales passed the 15,000 mark.

Refunds of 25 per cent would cost the club in the region of £1m.

Marcelo Bielsa.

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