BEFORE taking charge of Swansea City for the first time as caretaker manager, Garry Monk joked that 10 years of building a good relationship with the Welsh club’s fans could be thrown away in 90 minutes.
Cardiff City being the opponents was behind Monk’s lighthearted concern but he need not have worried as it was the Swans who emerged as 3-0 victors to prevent their hated rivals claiming a first league double in the often heated south Wales clash.
This lunchtime, Monk is back in derby action as Leeds United head to Sheffield Wednesday and he admits to relishing the trip down the M1.
“I am really excited,” said the 38-year-old as he goes in search of a first league win as United manager. “A derby is always special, no matter how big or small.
“This is obviously a big one in terms of the support for both clubs. The focus must be on our game, our football and taking another step forward as a group.
“We showed tremendous bravery and courage in the game on Tuesday (in drawing 1-1 at home to Fulham). What we need is exactly the same as that and to stamp our game onto Sheffield Wednesday.
“That will be difficult against a side who have been together for a while now and been successful. There has been an overhaul, and they look a settled squad now. They’re able to add real quality. It is a big challenge but one we need to rise to.
“I am confident and sure that we will rise to it. They are the best games to play in, the ones you really remember at the end of your career. They are always the best atmosphere.”
Monk had a short spell on loan at Hillsborough as a player. He made 15 appearances during 2002-03, a season that ended with the Owls being relegated to the third tier.
“You can’t really compare (then to now),” replied Monk when asked about his previous stint in S6. “The situation when I went to Sheffield Wednesday, they were in a bit of a relegation battle if I remember rightly. Lower down the league and weren’t as successful as they are now.
“But these are two massive clubs. Two massive histories as well. Especially for this area. Both are giants of clubs within the history of British football.
“Everyone will fight for who is the best, who has got the best history. But my job is to focus on Leeds United and to do the best for Leeds United, to try and make us successful again.”