GARRY Monk says Huddersfield Town’s presence at the top of the Championship is of no surprise - insisting the Terriers are reaping the rewards of keeping faith with German boss David Wagner.
Huddersfield only finished 19th last season, six places and eight points behind United and only 11 points clear of the dropzone.
But Terriers chairman Dean Hoyle stuck by Wagner, appointed as Huddersfield head coach last November and now approaching his 39th game in charge with Saturday’s trip to Elland Road.
With Leeds fourth-bottom, Monk is approaching his eighth game in charge as United’s seventh head coach under chairman Massimo Cellino since the Italian’s arrival in February 2014.
“I watched them work last season,” said Monk of Huddersfield. “I have seen their games and I could see the way the manager was working.
“And obviously now he is a lot longer down the line with his team.
“You can see what he was working on before to where they are now and it’s a progression - it’s obvious - and you have seen it from all the teams that have done well in the league - they have had a good period of time with their manager and their manager with the players and they are able to get them into a good way of playing and how they want to play and the players become a lot clearer in what they need to do.
“They are obviously in that moment right now so it’s no surprise to me.”
Nine points already separate Leeds and Huddersfield after just four games of the Championship campaign with United only outside of the dropzone on goal difference.
Monk, though, is looking up, all of the way to the top.
“They have made a very good start,” said United’s head coach of the Terriers.
“I don’t think they could have probably asked for much more than what they have done.
“They are a good team, very organised and the manager has them set up and very organised in a good way.
“We have to be aware. We realise it’s going to be very tough for us and they are top of the league so right now everyone is trying to chase them down.
“It’s their job now to try and remain on top of the table where they are and to cement their good start to the season.
“So really the pressure is on them.
“Of course the pressure is on us in terms of we want to get our results and we want to perform well in front of our crowd.
“We have to try and push on now and make sure that we can set a benchmark against someone that is top of the league.”
Monk will also be looking to record his second derby victory at Leeds in the space of three weeks having guided United to a 2-0 success at Sheffield Wednesday in August - the club’s only Championship win of the season so far.
Asked what the key was to enjoying derby success, Monk replied: “Good question.
“All of the derby games that I have ever played in and all the ones that I have managed in, it’s to stay as focused as possible on your job.
“Understand and respect the occasion because there’s no getting away from a derby and it is a different feel.
“There’s a different build-up and a different atmosphere in the stadiums that you play in.
“But generally it is the team that stays most focused on their jobs and what they are supposed to do and what they are there for and how they do it and how they put that on to the pitch that generally comes out on top.”
“We did that very well against Sheffield Wednesday and I think they hadn’t lost at home for nearly a year at that point or somewhere around there.
“They hadn’t lost for a long time at home and they had a really good record so we probably went into that derby situation in the most difficult circumstances and we came out of it because we did what I just said and that has to be our job again here.
“We respect them, they are top of the league, a very good team and probably the toughest test we have had yet because of where they lie in the league.
“It’s one for us to be ready for.”