GARRY MONK claimed Leeds United’s reluctance to offer him a long-term future was behind his decision to quit the club and insisted he was unconcerned about the threat of a hostile reception when he returns to Elland Road as Middlesbrough manager tomorrow.
Speaking ahead of his first meeting with Leeds since his resignation in May, Monk described criticism of his departure as “the way of the world we live in” and said he had “fantastic memories” of his relationship with United’s support during his 12 months as the club’s head coach.
Monk is likely to face an unsympathetic crowd this weekend as he and Middlesbrough turn out in front of an anticipated attendance of 34,000 at Elland Road.
The 38-year-old took Leeds to a seventh-placed finish in the Championship last season, falling short of the play-offs after a bad loss of form in the final month, but Monk unexpectedly resigned just days after United owner Andrea Radrizzani completed his takeover of the club.
Leeds were poised to activate a 12-month option to extend Monk’s previous contract but Radrizzani allowed him to leave after being told that the former Swansea City defender intended to move on. Middlesbrough appointed him as their manager a fortnight later.
Monk was said to have been unhappy at Leeds’ failure to present him with a better deal but United countered that claim by saying Monk had shown no interest in discussing a longer contract and was “considering life beyond Leeds United.”
Asked about criticism of him from sections of Leeds’ support, Monk told BBC Radio Tees: “It’s the way of the world we live in. It’s unfortunate but there are real reasons why I left there and the main reason is that I didn’t feel there was ever any intention of a long-term project.
“Did I expect to be at Leeds and stay at Leeds? Of course I did. I expected to be there longer than one season. I wanted to and I prepared for being there for longer than last season.
“The aim was to take it into this season and have a crack at the automatic positions. That’s what we were prepared to do but there was no real intention to offer me that so the decision was made. I left Leeds United.”
Leeds managing director Angus Kinnear, however, reiterated the club’s view that Monk had actively sought to move on during the summer, telling the YEP this week: “From our perspective, Garry for the majority of last season did a great job but since he made it clear that he didn’t see his future at Leeds United, we haven’t really given him much thought.
My memories of the way it was last year are special. If people want to sour that from the outside that’s fine but it doesn’t really bother me.Middlesbrough boss Garry Monk
“We’re focused on people who want to be here and there are lots of people who do. Our fans will make their own decision. They’ll give him a fitting welcome based on that decision.”
Leeds and Boro are separated by three points and five places in the Championship, with Monk’s squad in fifth after three straight wins.
Monk played down the significance of the crowd’s reaction tomorrow, saying: “My memories of the way it was last year are special. If people want to sour that from the outside that’s fine but it doesn’t really bother me. I was really appreciative of the support I got.
“My only focus is on my team. It’s not about me. It’s about Middlesbrough Football Club and the team who are playing for Middlesbrough Football Club. It’s three points, it’s an important game, it’s a difficult game but we’re only focused on what we need to do. Inwardly it’s the only thing that matters.
“I can only speak highly of the Leeds fans when I when I was there. Taking a club where there was no connection between the team and the fans and putting the foundations there, and them helping in building togetherness and unity - my memories are fantastic.
“Because some people say stuff about you afterwards, it doesn’t deter from the real fans and the proper fans there who gave great support.”