Leeds United boss Garry Monk planning for brighter future

GARRY MONK has given a clear hint he is ready to sit down with new Leeds United joint owner Andrea Radrizzani and discuss a long-term contract.

Leeds United manager, Garry Monk. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

The Italian businessman admitted last weekend that keeping hold of the club’s head coach was paramount.

Monk signed a 12-month rolling contract on being appointed last summer but his stock has risen dramatically since then by steering Leeds into the promotion race.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

United head to Barnsley tomorrow tea-time for their second White Rose derby of 2017 and the 37-year-old insists his focus remains on the Oakwell clash.

But, pressed on whether he saw the United job as a long-term project, the former Swansea City chief replied: “Of course. I came here to put something in place which I felt the club hadn’t had before.

“As a manager, you come with the focus of developing something. Football doesn’t always allow you that in management but I work with a short-term view to get the right results as quickly as possible, which then allows you to have a longer-term view of what you want to do. As a manager, you always have a mixture of both.

“So, yes, we are building something and trying to put something in place with this group and this club. My full focus is on that and on doing my best from day one. That will always continue for as long as I am at the club.”

Along with a desire to focus on not just tomorrow’s derby clash but also next Wednesday’s visit of Nottingham Forest, Monk has a keen eye on the January transfer window.

A striker and a wideman are both on his wishlist. West Ham United forward Ashley Fletcher, so impressive on loan at Barnsley last season, is wanted by Monk along with Norwich City teenager Sergi Canos.

“Nothing is imminent,” added Monk when asked about a window that has just 11 days to run. “But the club is working very hard on making sure we can get one or two through the door.

“We want to help the squad. It is to give them the best chance. I am very happy with this squad and proud to be working with these players. It is something I want to do to help them and they understand that.

“January is never an easy window, it is not as easy as identifying a player and he then comes through the door.

“But we are very hopeful that things can be done.

“You never close the door on anything but, one thing is for sure, it has to be the right player. They have to fit into a group who are doing fantastically well.”

Monk was at Oakwell on Tuesday night as Barnsley crashed out of the FA Cup third round against League Two Blackpool.

That exit capped a miserable few days for the Reds, who saw top scorer Sam Winnall leave last week along with chief executive Linton Brown.

With owner Patrick Cryne having taken a step back to focus on his fight against cancer, Brown’s sudden departure left Paul Heckingbottom with an increased workload due to the club’s head coach having to suddenly start fielding calls from agents and trying to make progress on deals of his own.

Others have since stepped into the void, much to Heckingbottom’s relief. But that hasn’t stopped the 39-year-old having to field enquiries about possible moves for star players such as Aston Villa target Conor Hourihane and Marc Roberts, who sources in Lancashire indicate is on Burnley’s radar but has not yet been the subject of a firm bid.

“Nothing has changed,” said the Reds head coach yesterday when asked about possible transfers. “There has been lots of speculation and I have seen the social media out there.

“I cannot deny that there is speculation. But most of it is just speculation. This club just deals with things when they become official.”

Asked if any of his players had tabled transfer requests in an attempt to follow Winnall out the door, Heckingbottom, who this week signed Everton loanee Gethin Jones, replied: “None have, though I don’t know what has gone off behind the scenes with them or their agents.

“What their agents need to remember is the players must focus and play well. I have said before that the players will get their moves if they want them.”

Heckingbottom may have just faced the toughest weeks of his near one-year reign at Oakwell but Monk admits to being a big fan.

“He has done brilliantly,”added the Leeds chief. “Another up and coming manager and he has taken to that job extremely well.

“Like all managers, you face situations which make it more difficult. So, in this period, it will be about how they come through it. But they are a very good side.

“If Barnsley are allowed to play the way they want to play, they will hurt you.

“When derbies comes around form can go out the window so we have to make sure that doesn’t happen to us. We have to turn up ready.”