NEW Leeds United director Niccolo Barattieri and club legend Eddie Gray have hailed the appointment of Garry Monk as head coach, with Barattieri declaring: “He’s one of the most exciting young managers in the game.”
Three empty seats were left to be filled at Monk’s first Leeds United press conference at Elland Road yesterday with Whites legend Gray on hand to introduce not just Monk but also new club director Barattieri.
Barattieri was announced as a new club director in May and proved an unfamiliar face at yesterday’s packed media assembly, but the new Whites employee was quick to sing the praises of United’s new head coach whom he said needed “no introduction” after his achievements with former club Swansea City.
“He’s one of the most exciting young managers in the game,” said Barattieri.
“He’s already got extensive Premiership experience even though he is only 37 years of age, which makes me very jealous.
“He guided Swansea to an eighth-placed finish, which is the highest in Swansea’s history and with a record number of points and for us having him here is really testament to the hard work of Mr (Massimo)Cellino and everybody involved here at the football club to attract such talent.
“We have been incredibly impressed with his meticulous approach to the game and his free-flowing football and we are excited for the coming season to have him as part of the team and leading us on the pitch.”
Monk looked naturally comfortable in his first Whites media assignment, cutting a composed, confident and assured presence alongside Barattieri and legendary former Whites winger Gray.
The new head coach admitted it was “an honour” to be sat beside Gray – and the Leeds legend had similarly warm words to say about the 37-year-old who in 2014-15 guided Swansea to their best ever Premier League finish of eighth. “Although Garry is a young manager he has got a lot of experience,” said Gray.
“But the thing that has struck me is his enthusiasm for the game, his confidence in his own ability and I think he will bring a lot to Leeds United, as the same Leeds United will bring a lot to Garry.
“He knows we are a big football club, he knows the task ahead, he knows what the expectation level is from the fans and everybody connected with the club and he’ll be working on that from now to get it right.
“From all the questions he has been asked, everything he has answered is right but Garry himself has been in the game as a player and as a manager and he knows it is all about getting the players ready for that first game of the season and making sure they are all ready to go.
“Whoever Garry decides to bring into the football club, coaching wise, player wise, it will be up to him and he will talk to people – he will talk to the owner.”
A sensible Monk refused to make any bold predictions or rash statements upon his first Whites media assignment, but stressed: “I’ve not come here to do the average or be mediocre.”
Gray evidently has full confidence in United’s new man and added: “Basically he knows his job and his job is to try and get Leeds United back in the Premier League.
“He has managed there already so he knows what it takes and the type of players that he needs but there are players at the football club and he will assess them. “He will soon make his mind up what players that he thinks are going to fit in with the way he wants to play the game.
“I can only wish him all the best.
“I think it’s a great coup for the football club to get such a young talented manager to come to Leeds United, especially given what has happened over the last few years at the football club,” he added.
“I’m sure the fans will be delighted and I think everybody connected with the football club will be delighted that Garry is here.”