Is Garry Monk the manager to take Leeds United back to the Premier League?

Is Garry Monk the manager to take Leeds United back to the Premier League?

The biggest positive we have going into the new season is definitely Garry Monk. Young, ambitious, media savvy, has Premier League pedigree, plays attractive football and works well with young players. He ticks all the boxes for a new manager, many of which have been left empty for years. Monk’s arrival was exactly what Leeds fans needed, it gave us something to cheer, something to get excited about and it gives us hope for the new season.

Though rather late in coming, Monk’s appointment was a pleasant surprise. I genuinely thought that two years of quick fire sackings and incoherent wailing at press conferences had scared away any credible manager. Thankfully this was not the case and we’ve landed a coach who, until very recently, was being tipped as a future England manager. Though, when people like Steve McClaren, Roy Hodgson, and Sam Allardyce have held that job, maybe it’s not that much of a compliment anymore.

All the same, I’ve been impressed with Monk since he’s taken the hot seat at Elland Road. He talks a good game if nothing else. “I want the players to be excited by the football they’re playing and I want the fans to be excited by the football they’re watching.” Sounds good to me, we’ve been lacking excitement and fun at Elland Road for a long time. I recall, during a recent home game, actually being distracted by how filthy the south stand roof was. I had a ten-minute chat with my mate about how little effort it would take it get it cleaned and what an improvement it would make. Things haven’t particularly improved, on or off the pitch, since then really, so I’m happy with Monk’s enthusiasm.

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Transferring that enthusiasm to the players can be a challenge, though, one that many managers have failed to achieve in LS11. Last year we had Uwe Rosler talking up the idea of ‘heavy metal’ football and a fast-paced, pressing 4-3-3 system. It all sounded lovely and there was a noticeable improvement in tempo and energy during pre-season but when August rolled round, most of the squad struggled to get to grips with the tactics and their individual roles.

We ended up with 8 players heading towards the opposition’s box with little idea of what to when they got there. This lack of direction and application resulted in two wins in twelve and ultimately Rosler’s sacking. This year we’ve seen the same energy but also a drive, confidence and, most importantly, belief in Monk’s style of football. The players seem to have a firm idea of what monk wants to build here and how he wants each of them to help him achieve it.

“I feel that we’ve not had a culture or an identity at the club for quite a long time. For me, it’s important that we build that.” We’ve heard this sort of thing before but at least Monk has the background to give these words a bit of credence. He spent over a decade with Swansea City, one of the best run clubs in all four divisions. A club that established a culture and ethos that guided them from the arse end of the fourth tier, all the way to the Premiership. Let’s not forget, we were League 1 and Championship rivals of Swansea not too long ago. Unfortunately, as they built, developed and grew, we’ve gone backwards. So even if Monk only manages to bring a tiny bit of that Swansea City culture to Leeds, I think we’ll all be in a better place.

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Monk seems to have us in decent shape for the season ahead, new players, new style, decent preseason, it’s all in place. Then why is there doubt, why do I see dark clouds on the horizon, why am I worried all this hard work will be undone? I’m sure part of this is down to still being a bit confused about how the hell we actually landed Monk in the first place. Up to five other candidates, all of whom I would consider of a lower profile, turned down the job before Monk was offered it. So why did Monk take it, why would someone of his status join this bloody circus?

Leeds United is still clearly a draw to but when the likes of Karl Robinson and John Sheridan are walking away, there’s definitely something amiss. So why is Monk join Leeds United, does he still see the potential of this fallen giant or is it simply that he couldn’t find another job in the top two divisions?

Whatever the case may be, the fact is that most people who know the game rate, Monk. They think he was unlucky to lose the Swansea gig and think he’s capable of great things at Leeds. With this in mind, I’m willing to overlook the oddities surrounding his appointment and just focus on the fact we have a decent manager. However, I still see one large obstacle that Monk will have to surmount, if he is to achieve anything at Elland Road. Enter our fearless President, Mr. Massimo Cellino.

In fairness to Monk, he doesn’t share my concern on this one and believes he has a good relationship with Cellino. Monk even said in his first LUTV interview that he understands Massimo’s “thought process” and that “it ties in with what I want to do as a manager.” Credit to Garry on this one, as I’ve been following Cellino’s antics for over 2 years now and I’ve no idea what his thought process is.

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I like Monk’s attitude, his drive and the football he likes to play but these comments are a worry. Not expecting conflict with Cellino is foolish, thinking you understand his motives even more so. This is a man who would turn up to a knife fight with a flame thrower, that he hadn’t read the instructions for. A fight with Cellino is inevitable but we just have to hope that Monk can buy himself enough time to finish his job before the bell rings.

I have high hopes that Garry Monk will bring much-needed change to Leeds United. He has the potential to really build something here and leave a positive legacy at the club. Having said this, though, I don’t have much faith any of that will actually happen. We have been in this position before when fans have dared to dream of better times for Leeds United. However, every time we think we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it’s actually a freight train screaming towards us and it always filled with increasingly violent rapists.

Garry Monk has given us hope again and I’m happy for this and wish him all the best. I just think there will be too many obstacles put in his way and eventually one of them will stop him dead in his tracks. I genuinely hope I’m wrong, I want Leeds back in the Premiership but I just can’t see it happening while our manager has to deal with Cellino.

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