GARRY Monk is backing his Leeds United players to quickly deal with another huge fixture against Championship visitors Aston Villa, four days after an “emotional” EFL Cup exit at Liverpool.
In-form Villa will visit Elland Road for a 5.30pm kick-off on Saturday for another high profile clash involving Leeds that will again be screened live on Sky Sports.
The Whites are in the middle of a run of five games being screened live on Sky during 20 days with the big name clashes continuing to come thick and fast on the back of the home clash with leaders Newcastle United last month, a game followed by last weekend’s Yorkshire derby at Rotherham United.
Leeds were then huge underdogs for Tuesday night’s EFL Cup clash at Anfield but created a host of chances against the Reds before falling to a 2-0 defeat. Villa, who are 11th in the table but improving quickly under new boss Steve Bruce, now provide United with another stern test just four days later.
But Monk has no concerns over his side suffering an emotional EFL Cup hangover, with the Whites head coach insisting it is his job to prepare his squad for a continued spell of high profile games.
”It’s important and we talk about it a lot,” said Monk. “It’s part of my job to help the players understand that and especially when it’s more the emotional highs that you can get with big games. You try to focus the players to stay balanced in that each game means the same which it does in terms of an outcome.
“But with the game on Tuesday players were naturally emotionally a bit higher because it’s a new surrounding, it’s a higher level and it’s a better opponent so emotionally your feelings are a little bit higher than normal.
“It’s about controlling that, whatever the outcome is after a game and making sure that you can refocus it and use that same emotional energy as well as physical into the next game.”
Leeds went close to leading at Anfield on several occasions on Tuesday, particularly when Kemar Roofe’s second-half curler dropped on the post. Late goals from Divock Origi and Ben Woodburn then gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a 2-0 victory.
Monk reasoned: “We spoke straight after the game on Tuesday and the players understand that they have to move on straight away, whatever the result may be and whatever the performance may be. If anything, it should help them in terms of the performance that they gave and the consistency of our performances have been very good. It’s that we have to maintain going into this game at the weekend and we know we have to turn around those emotions as well, very quickly and make sure that we are ready for what is going to be a big game at the weekend.” Leeds approach the Villa clash sat in fifth but Monk is keen to avoid a fascination with being in the play-offs.
“It’s obviously great to be in and around them and up in the league,” he said. “It shows that we are working in a good way and that what we are doing is right.
“But our focus isn’t really that, whether we are in the play-offs or in those promotion places or out of them – our focus and our agenda stays exactly the same. It is to improve this young squad and take it step by step and we are doing that.”