Pantomime villain and club owner Massimo Cellino has always been notoriously ruthless when it comes to time allotted to his appointed head coaches. Certainly football is a results business and that is nothing new, but Cellino has an impulsive streak which often causes his self destructive termination of head coaches to occur before the ink has dried on their contract.
In Garry Monk he has found someone who has the skills to encourage longevity in the role at hand by paying serious attention to ensure that focus be applied on the long term development of the young stars coming through the club. In the past head coaches have started the job in fear of being fired, their focus only on the immediate occurring within the club. That fear spread into the players and ultimately onto the pitch and prevented the team from living up to the expectations of a ravenous fan base.
Cellino’s appointment of Monk has had a different effect and a calming sense of confidence has spread through the Elland Road club. Six new additions to the squad early in the close season took the fans by surprise, adding quality to areas which desperately required it and much needed experience to sections of a young squad who were lacking it.
Unfortunately since those signings, Leeds fans have had to endure the sale of Lewis Cook to Bournemouth, uncertainty surrounding the future of Charlie Taylor and several potential deals which for one reason or another failed to reach completion. Fans began to complain about Cellino citing his actions as proof of broken promises once again. Questions were asked as doubts emerged about the money from the sale of Cook and why it had not yet been used to strengthen the squad.
Mirco Silvestri appears to be set to leave the club after seemingly going from first choice to fourth choice keeper in a matter of a few short weeks. Reports suggested Sol Bamba had been placed on the transfer list amid speculation of a move away from the club. These were stories that added to the growing concern of fans, which began to worry about another season where the expectations could not be met with such a threadbare squad available to Monk.
The Presence of Youth
A pre-season campaign has seen the inclusion of a number of young players used by Leeds. This is partly due to necessity with the limited number of senior players available to him, but it has proven Monk to be braver than his predecessors in the role as head coach.
Fans have grown accustomed to the overused rhetoric of head coaches talking in glowing terms about the Thorp Arch Academy and how significant a role it plays in the future of the club, only to ignore the players graduating through its ranks when it comes to the question of first team involvement.
There have been some notable exceptions of course, but in recent years, the players too frequently leave in pursuit of a contract in the lower leagues of the game.
Where previous head coaches have been too scared of achieving immediate results, Monk has used this as an opportunity to blood many of the most promising players with involvement in the first team squad. Bailey Parker-Farrell, Tyler Denton, Lewie Coyle, Paul McKay, Alex Purver, Eoghan Stokes, Ronaldo Vieira in addition to other recent academy graduates Alex Mowatt, Charlie Taylor and Kalvin Phillips in his pre season campaign
Some have looked a little out of their depth at times, which is to be expected, but there are positive signs once again that the club has produced some lads who have the potential to become very good players for the club. It is true to say some of the young lads are ready for first team action now and in promoting them, the squad becomes stronger.
Monk expects some of these young lads to struggle, but in giving them opportunities now he is testing how they react and challenging them to continue working hard to develop. Giving them a taste of first team action will leave them hungry for more. If they have the desire he will help them achieve their ambition of succeeding at the club.
Much work is still required to strengthen a young squad and add further quality and experience to help develop the prospects coming through the clubs academy. The Leeds squad is filled with promise and potential and they need to be afforded to time to grow. Under Cellino and a passionate and loyal fan base, the minimum requirement is challenging for a promotion place this season. It may just be the secret behind that success lay in the production and development of young stars emerging from the clubs famous Thorp Arch Academy.