AFTER seeing Leeds United’s bid for promotion effectively ended by Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, the YEP’s Lee Sobot looks at a few key issues ahead of Sunday’s finale at Wigan Athletic.
Will there have been developments with Garry Monk’s contract talks?
Cut to the chase and deal with what matters most - sorting head coach Garry Monk’s future at Leeds.
Whites co-owner Andrea Radrizzani stressed some weeks ago that talks about Monk’s future and United’s plans going forward would wait until June.
That, though, was when Leeds looked certainties to reach the play-offs, when Radrizzani would have held every hope that United’s season would extend to the final Monday in May through the Championship play-off final.
But Sunday’s clash at already-relegated Wigan is now effectively a dead rubber and there is no reason why negotiations between Monk, Radrizzani and fellow co-owner Massimo Cellino cannot get started.
The sooner the better. Monk - whose current rolling one-year deal ends in the summer - has admitted he would be happy to stay if given certain assurances by United’s owners about taking the club forward.
Rolling back 12 months, last season’s Championship finale at Preston North End involved then head coach Steve Evans saluting the travelling Whites fans in tears in what proved the Glaswegian’s final game in charge.
Worst case scenario is that Sunday’s clash at the DW proves Monk’s last game in charge too.
Will Garry make widescale changes?
United are already guaranteed to finish seventh and there’s no point even considering a dramatic last gasp jump into the play-offs given that sixth-placed Fulham are three points ahead and have a plus 13 better goal difference.
So it will be interesting to see if Monk opts to make changes and further blood some of the club’s youngsters perhaps.
The head coach will certainly be forced into at least one change with Swedish centre back Pontus Jansson now set to serve a three-game ban for picking up 15 yellow cards.
Liam Cooper will presumably slot straight back into the side in place of Jansson given that the 25-year-old is now back available after serving his own six-match suspension for stamping on Reading’s Reece Oxford.
Captain Liam Bridcutt could also still be struggling with his Achilles problem, though there is a strong argument to suggest that Eunan O’Kane should start alongside Ronaldo Vieira in any case.
And the gut feeling is that proud Monk will select his strongest side in a bid to end the season on a high and with 77 points - a total which would normally be more than enough to seal a place in the play-offs.
Will Charlie Taylor get one last outing for Leeds?
Several Whites players could be approaching their final game for Leeds on Sunday given that - of those featuring at present - Hadi Sacko, Alfonso Pedraza and heaven forbid even Kyle Bartley are only on loan.
The same comments apply to Mo Barrow and Matt Grimes but they are not featuring at present and while Pontus Jansson is also still only technically on loan, the Swede has already finalised a permanent move from Torino and should sign a three-year contract in July.
Pablo Hernandez is also out of contract this summer and Leeds are yet to activate a one-year option.
But if there’s one Whites player almost definitely heading for their final weekend with the Whites then it is left back Charlie Taylor whose contract expires after Sunday’s game.
West Brom and Liverpool have both been credited with interest in Taylor whose Whites exit has been on the cards for some time, ever since he turned down the club’s offer of a new deal last July and then handed in a transfer request one month later.
But the 23-year-old has certainly not been shirking the issue when selected by Monk though the defender was benched in favour of Gaetano Berardi for Saturday’s clash with Norwich.
The failure to start against Norwich will actually deny the left back the chance to make 100 starts for United, assuming he is leaving this summer.
The defender has started 98 games for the Whites at present, featuring in 104 matches in total when including appearances as a substitute.