GARRY MONK admits Leeds United are “ahead of schedule” in his attempts to revive the Yorkshire club’s fortunes.
The 37-year-old head coach has only been at Elland Road since June, but his impact is clear for all to see.
Not only are United sitting in the play-off places this Christmas, but the feelgood factor is very much back thanks to a run of form that has seen the last 16 games yield 34 points.
“I think we are ahead of schedule,” he said when asked about the progress made since his arrival. “You are trying to cram everything into a short period and I will say this young group has had to deal with a lot in that time. But they have fought through that.
“You will get ups and downs, but I guess, in terms of where we are and our development, we are probably ahead of schedule.
“That is good, but we want to get better and that is good as well. This group want to get better, they want to get a better performance out of themselves.
“You could hear it in the changing room (after last weekend’s Brentford win). That, to me, is a good sign. It is all about the standards that we set. They are the ones that we have to adhere to.
“It was good to hear them talking like that, even though we had won the three points and kept a clean sheet.”
Leeds’s revival under Monk will be given a stern test over the festive season. Boxing Day brings a visit to Preston North End – managed by former Leeds boss SImon Grayson – and then, just three days later, United are again on the road, this time at Aston Villa.
Steve Bruce’s side will be out for revenge, having lost 2-0 at Elland Road earlier this month, while Grayson will be keen to get one over his former club after Leeds took four points off Preston last season.
“The group are working incredibly hard for each other,” added Monk. “They fight for every minute of every game.
“Sometimes we have a fantastic performance where we look sharp, we look intense and we are on the front foot. But other times, games have been close – when we have not quite been at the right level – and yet we found a way to win. You need to be able to do both to be a successful team.
“We don’t want to make it as close as that too many times, we would rather be in a more comfortable position. But the players keep fighting to the end and they keep trying to show their quality, which is what we need.”