Will Leeds United's Garry Monk be first in the Championship sack race?
Leeds United’s recorded their first back to back wins of the season, over Sheffield Wednesday and Luton Town, this week. Three goals, two clean sheets and some attractive football have lifted the gloom that was settling around LS11 and helped recapture a little of the pre-season optimism. The victories and the reaction to them were great but it has bollocks up my preparations for this article somewhat.
A few weeks ago I wrote that Garry Monk needing to make a quick start to the campaign to avoid awkward questions about his future. A single point from three league games and a penalties win in the cup was not exactly what I had in mind. Granted there were mitigating circumstances, Monk had only been in the job for two months, pre season had been rushed, signings were still needed and how can anyone plan for a former England goal keeper flapping at crosses like your nan trying to scare off a bee? It still wasn’t particularly surprising though when rumours hit the national press of Monk’s impending sacking. I had planned to write an article around this, urging for patience and keeping faith and not throwing away another bloody season before it’s even properly started.
Thankfully Monk and his team addressed these concerns better than my words ever could by comprehensively beating Sheffield Wednesday. It was an important win for Monk, not only was it his first in the league but against one of the few teams we actually give a shit about, a small pebbley one but still. It also saw his team put in a stellar performance against last season’s Play-off finalists. This was the best Leeds United have played for a long time and the opening goal was a particular highlight, it was of the kind of quality I’d given up seeing from a Leeds team.
The move only consisted of five swift passes and took just shy of twenty seconds from start to finish, I’ve not seen Leeds United do anything that quickly in years. To be honest some of the players we’ve had at the club recently would take over a minute to just count to twenty. It was a beautiful move any way, started by Charlie Taylor winning the ball just outside his own box, a rush of pace saw him burn off a Wednesday player and send the ball to Chris Wood. Wood was sitting deep waiting for the chance to break but was a little late to release the ball to Hadi Sacko, no shock there, but Sacko had no trouble charging the ball into the opposition box. A cute backheel, that would usually set off a counter attack and probably see us concede, actually made it to Luke Ayling. Ayling quickly returned the ball to Sacko, with his first touch no less, while Marcus Antonsson slipped his marker on the far side of Wednesday box. Sacko flighted a lovely cross, again with his first bloody touch, across the face of goal. Antonsson buried the cross with a diving header and Leeds fans everywhere collectively paused as we thought we’d slipped into a parallel universe where we weren’t utter shit.
This game was a nice reminder of what a Garry Monk team is capable of. Wherever or not the recent rumours were true, this reminder was needed as a manager is never too far away from danger at Leeds United. A mauling by Sheffield Wednesday could’ve easily seen Monk making a hasty and permanent exit from Hillsborough, hidden in the boot of his wife’s car in a desperate attempt to avoid the press, like a 1970s BBC personality leaving court.
It was important Garry injected some positivity into the season after the poor start. It would be harsh to blame it all on Monk but we didn’t have a single shot on target during our first game and that is unforgivable. Surely coaching strikers to shoot is like teaching 5 years to finger paint, you just point them in the general direction and even if they’re crap, they’ll just crack on with it.
Fortunately these two wins have turned what could have been a very damaging month for Garry Monk into an encouraging one but he needs to keep the momentum up. Massimo Cellino has a very short attention span and even though sacking a manager of Monk’s quality would be utter madness, that, unfortunately, is Massimo Cellino’s speciality.
I’ve heard some fans argue ‘why would Cellino finance ten signings just to sack the manager after a handful of poor performances?’ It’s a fair point with a solid logic behind it but I’m afraid Massimo Cellino doesn’t really deal in logic. Last summer Uwe Rosler brought in seven players, at a cost of over £5m, yet was sacked in October. Going back another year, fifteen players arrived at the club under Dave Hockaday and he lasted just six games. I mean Cellino actually hired Hockaday in the first place, a man about as equipped to manage a Championship football team as I am building a particle accelerator.
Just mentioning Dave Hockaday should remind us all, especially Cellino, how much of a coup it was to land Garry Monk. I’m not suggesting he should get a free ride or even that two wins and one great goal cancels out the preceding awful performances but it’s a good start. Nor does it change the fact Monk works for a temperamental man child. The sword of Damocles is always hanging over Garry Monk’s head but these victories have bought him time and that’s pretty much the best we can hope for right now.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by chao1989
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