GARRY Monk has mounted a stern defence of his performance as Leeds United head coach, saying his work so far was “clearly good enough” after a midweek victory over Blackburn Rovers eased the pressure on him.
Leeds will look to record successive league victories for the first time this season at Cardiff City tomorrow and Monk claimed their performance on Tuesday and the reaction to a timely defeat of Blackburn had underlined confidence in his strategy at Elland Road.
Monk’s position as head coach was questioned over the weekend after Huddersfield Town’s 1-0 win at Elland Road forced Leeds into the Championship’s relegation zone and left Monk to reflect on a poor start to the term.
Tuesday’s victory, however, was a shot in the arm for his out-of-form squad and Monk said he believed United had made definite progress since opening their campaign with a 3-0 hammering away at Queens Park Rangers.
“You could see clearly from the players on Tuesday - their performance, their reaction afterwards and how committed everyone is to what we’re doing here,” Monk said.
“How supportive they are of the way I go about my job and the plan I have in place.
“That’s internal at the club too. They understand the level of detail we’re giving to these players and everyone’s very focused on what we’re doing. We’re progressing. We’ve shown progression from where we were at the start of the season to where we are now.
“It’s small steps and we keep working hard but everyone believes in each other.
Everyone wants to continue in this way.”
United’s defeat to Huddersfield prompted speculation that Massimo Cellino might instigate another change of head coach at Elland Road, the seventh in his spell as owner, but Monk said: “I don’t play attention to that. You can only control what you can control.
“I’ve signed a one-year contract. That’s my commitment to the club and that’s the club’s commitment to me. From within, the owner and everyone, they’ve been supportive, They’ve seen how we work, they enjoy how we work and they enjoy the high level of detail and quality we give to the group. The players enjoy it too. You could see from the reaction on Tuesday how committed they are.
“That’s the only thing I focus on. It’s the only indicator for me - whether what I’m delivering is good enough and I think it clearly is. Yes, there are ups and downs but that’s the nature of football. I keep saying it takes time but that’s the truth.”
Monk says his former battles with Cardiff City “mean nothing”, ahead of tomorrow’s clash in the Welsh capital.
He spent 12 years at Cardiff’s fierce South Wales rivals Swansea City between 2004 and 2015 as first a player turned captain and then manager.
His first game in charge of Swansea also came at Cardiff, in which the visitors enjoyed a 3-0 victory that will leave long in the memory of tomorrow’s hosts.
Reflecting on his former duels with Cardiff at Swansea, Monk mused: “It was brilliant and that rivalry was great from both sides. But that’s gone and it means nothing to me.
“That rivalry is nothing to do with me any more. That’s a part of my life that has gone and we have moved on.
“I am very focused on Leeds United and that rivalry because it will be a great atmosphere, I can imagine.
“We are going to take a lot of travelling fans, as we do to all of the games.
“It’s the capital city for Wales and they will have a big crowd and I think the atmosphere will be very good so we have to respond to that and respond to that travel and support that we have. We have to give them a performance that they can be proud of.
“We experienced it really well at Sheffield Wednesday and obviously at Luton – that feeling –and obviously Fleetwood as well.
“The travelling support are travelling in numbers and want the right performance again so that’s what we are concentrating on. This fixture means nothing to me and all I am focused on is Leeds, Leeds United, my players and that’s the respect I have to pay to my players.”