HEAD coach Garry Monk believes Leeds United deserve to be unbeaten throughout September and has urged the Whites to turn a “good month” into a “very good month” with victory against Barnsley at Elland Road tomorrow.
United’s four-game winning run was ended in a 1-0 loss at Championship hosts Bristol City on Tuesday but Leeds have picked up nine points from their last possible 15 in the league.
September started with a 1-0 loss at home to Huddersfield Town - but Monk says his men felt hard done by with the defeats to both the Terriers and the Robins - increasing the importance of bagging three points tomorrow.
While the narrow losses to Huddersfield and Bristol City still grate, United’s head coach believes 12 points out of a possible last 18 - plus EFL Cup progression against Blackburn Rovers - would round off a very good month.
“Of course I have to happy with the improvement that we have made and the clarity that we are putting it on to the pitch with,” said Monk.
“You always want more and, in the best scenario, being selfish, we felt that we should still probably be undefeated this month if I’m honest.
“But that’s been and gone.
“What’s important is that we end what has been a good month and can we turn it into a very good month?
“If we can take 12 points out of the 18 then that would be what I would say is a good return and the most important bit is the improvement that we have made.
“It was always going to take time to improve the team and make them understand and put it on to the pitch because it takes a lot of work.
“But now you are seeing the confidence and the understanding of what’s expected of them and if we can continue on our way then it can lead to success.”
United are rated 5-4 favourites to beat the visiting Tykes tomorrow, with Barnsley having sacked their assistant boss the former Whites player Tommy Wright, yesterday, after he was named in a Daily Telegraph investigation alleging corruption in football.
The Tykes are sat tenth in the table - three points and four positions above 14th-placed Leeds - after making an impressive transition to life in the Championship following last season’s promotion from League One.
“I have seen it happen quite a lot with newly-promoted teams,” said Monk, analysing Barnsley’s good start to life in a higher tier.
“They have come off the back of a campaign where they have been used to winning and they take that mentality and that confidence into the start of the season, up a league and into the following season and it’s quite normal.
“So we have to be very, very good on the weekend in terms of our performance.
“It’s a local derby as well and in our situation how we are and how we feel as a team and how we feel as a group, we want to get the disappointment of Tuesday in terms of the result out of us with a really positive performance and a good three points. But our focus is on us.
“We respect Barnsley and their strengths, we understand what they are going to bring to the table but we are only going to be focused on us, like we have been this month.
“We have proven that when we are focused and we understand what’s expected that we can deliver really good performances.”
Missing a glut of decent chances ultimately cost Leeds iat Ashton Gate, but Monk insists United’s attacking prowess will continue to improve as each game goes on.
Monk reasoned: “I think in terms of offensively, we are going to get better and I think that is one of the hardest things to give.
“But all in all, clean sheets and the defensive mind of the team has been excellent.
“Offensively, we are all trying to improve as well but I think in terms of a progression, I think I couldn’t have asked for too much more in such a short space of time from the group. It’s pleasing now and it’s a platform to push on.
“We have to try and push on now and keep trying to pick up results.
“But the most important bit is that we keep putting performances in because if we keep performing as we have been results will follow. They should take care of themselves.”