LEEDS UNITED’S start to the 2016-17 campaign may have contained a few early ‘bumps in the road.’
But Chris Wood, for one, is in no doubt whatsoever that the course being navigated by head coach Garry Monk represents the right one.
In many ways, the Kiwi striker’s early-season experiences have been a microcosm of United’s story thus far.
The forward has had to cope with the rough and the smooth at times, having received some jeers in the first part of the season alongside far more pleasurable cheers – headlined by a sweet second goal in a 2-0 derby win at Hillsborough on August 20.
It was palpable relief among Whites supporters as opposed to exuberant celebrations which greeted his latest strike, with the top-scorer coming off the bench to make a key contribution for the second time in eight days against Blackburn Rovers, with a late winner in a 1-0 EFL Cup triumph over the Lancastrians on Tuesday evening.
Granted, the collective performance of United provided more evidence of a side still being the proverbial work in progress.
But Wood steadfastly believes that Leeds are going firmly in the right direction under Monk, with the head coach laying the foundations for concrete progress over the course of the nine-month Championship slog – with his players fully embracing his training ground philosophies.
Wood, whose goal helped Monk secure his third victory on the spin – no mean feat given a rough opening month of the season – said: “In my opinion, there should never be any pressure on this manager.
“He has come in and done a fantastic job and changed a lot of players and the backroom staff has changed and we are trying a whole new philosophy.
“It is going to take time and we are building. We are not the finished article, far from it. But we are building in the right direction, that is the main thing.
“It was never going to take two months of a season. It is going to take six months.
“But you want to see progress early on and that is what we have done and now we have to keep that going and add more ideas that he is bringing to us every week.
“He is making us better in terms of how we play. You can see we are playing better football now and working out from the back and pressing in the right direction – pressing hard, keeping our shape and working hard.
“So it is coming along nicely and I think it is going well.”
Wood may have derived an obvious amount of personal pleasure after taking his haul this season to an impressive six on Tuesday, but the 24-year-old is far more comforted by the sight of Leeds showing signs of cultivating a winning mentality, with finding a way to win when not at your best representing a bit of an art itself.
That is particularly prescient at hectic times of the season such as now, when the games come thick and fast and performances and not results often have to take precedence.
Wood said: “Sometimes, you have to find a way and when you get seven games in 22 days, it is very tough.
“But at the moment, we are grinding out wins and the back five are doing absolutely fantastic in keeping these clean sheets.
“If they keep doing that, we will win games, I am telling you.
“We have worked hard to get these three wins and are not going to sit and lie down now.
“This is the most important and crucial time and now we have got these three wins, we need to kick on and put a run of six, seven or eight games together if we can.
“That is what we are aiming for and it is going to take a lot of hard work.”