Garry Monk’s priorities in his first week as Leeds United head coach were very clear: piece together a programme for pre-season and nail down Pep Clotet as his assistant. He will be back at Elland Road in the coming days, looking to cross those tasks off his list.
Clotet is Monk’s preferred choice as No 2, the Spanish coach who assisted him at Swansea City, and that appointment would be part of wider strengthening of United’s coaching team. Beyond Clotet, Monk is expected to bring in a separate first-team coach to Thorp Arch and a goalkeeping coach to replace the recently-departed Richard Hartis.
Hartis left Leeds for a job with England last month, a little under a year after arriving as Uwe Rosler’s goalkeeping coach. Leeds’ commitment to recruiting a substantial backroom team under Rosler – Hartis, assistant Rob Kelly and first-team coach Julian Darby – is likely to be repeated this summer as Monk attempts to take the club’s senior squad in hand.
Clotet, who turned down the chance to manage Brentford last season, has been out of work since he followed Monk out of Swansea in December. A long-time coach who never played football professionally, Clotet was in the thick of both of Monk’s two pre-seasons as Swansea manager and Leeds hope to name the 39-year-old as assistant boss well in advance of their players resuming training.
Monk has told United’s squad to report to Thorp Arch at the end of this month. As he said last week, he has come to Elland Road with a blank canvas for pre-season and a short amount of time to put a programme in place. Leeds are still to finalise their first friendly. Prior to his appointment, and while Steve Evans was head coach, Leeds discussed the possibility of tours to Scotland or Ireland and were offered the chance of a training camp in Philadelphia.
The club turned down that trip to the USA but two weeks of Monk’s first summer as Swansea boss were spent in Chicago. Last year, while Leeds were in Austria with Rosler, he and Clotet picked Germany for a foreign tour and lined up two friendlies against Bundesliga sides 1860 Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach.
Reports of Swansea’s second pre-season under Monk spoke of high-intensity training and a meticulous schedule which started with double fitness sessions four days a week. The 37-year-old is planning a six-week preparation period at Leeds, an indication that the majority of United’s players will report back to Thorp Arch during the weekend beginning June 27.
Young midfielder Lewis Cook is among those who might be missing initially with international duty set to take him abroad for much of July.
Cook was forced by injury to pull out of England Under-19s’ back-to-back friendlies against Mexico this week but his withdrawal was largely precautionary and he is in line to make the squad for the European Under-19 Championship which starts in Germany on July 11.
Winger Stuart Dallas is in France with Northern Ireland ahead of the start of Euro 2016 and will be involved in that tournament until at least June 21. Jordan Botaka, meanwhile, scored in Congo’s 6-1 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying win over Madagascar on Sunday.
Monk, though, is inheriting a squad with little in the way of injury problems. Right-back Gaetano Berardi has recovered from the ankle ligament damage he suffered in the last month of the recent Championship term and an injury sustained by striker Chris Wood on international duty with New Zealand is not thought to be serious.
The All Whites initially feared that Wood had dislocated his shoulder in an OFC Nations Cup clash with the Solomon Islands but Wood was deemed fit enough to remain with the squad in Papua New Guinea. He is expected to miss tomorrow’s semi-final against New Caledonia, however.