Interview: How Garry Monk plans to keep Leeds United’s young stars at Elland Road

Garry Monk on his first day at Leeds United.
Garry Monk on his first day at Leeds United.
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NEW Leeds United head coach Garry Monk is confident that the club’s young star players will remain at Elland Road – following talks with owner Massimo Cellino.

The 37-year-old says he is relishing working with United’s stellar cast of homegrown players – including the likes of Lewis Cook, Charlie Taylor and Alex Mowatt – with that representing one of the key factors in him accepting the post.

Highly-rated midfielder Cook, named as the Football League’s Young Player of the Year in April, is being monitored by a number of Premier League clubs following two exemplary seasons, while left-back Taylor is another who is on the radar of several top-flight sides.

But Monk believes that the club’s prized assets will be sticking around and feels that he can develop their game further, having received assurances from Cellino about United’s talented crop of youthful players.

Monk, who signed a rolling one-year deal with Leeds on Thursday, said: “The youth set-up here has been renowned for years and bringing players through is an important part of it (at Leeds).

“I understand that and it is about using young players.

“It is (also) about keeping your best players. Looking at the squad, part of the attraction was that there is a group ready to work with and improve and push forward.

“It is about identifying which ones to add, but it is about definitely keeping your best and strongest players and improving everyone at the same time.

“I am excited by the fact that it is a young squad and these young players here have a lot of talent and they have an opportunity to be part of the future of the club.

“It (working with the young players) is a big reason why I took the job.

“You look at the players that the club already has and there’s some exciting talent and they have an opportunity to be part of a real positive future.

“And we will only add players, if needs be, to strengthen the squad we already have.

“I am looking forward to meeting the guys and working with them straightaway. I believe I have a way of working which will suit Leeds United and the players here.”

Confident he can keep hold of the club’s young stars, he added: “Once I speak and sit down with them and give them a vision of what I would like to do with them and the team going forward, hopefully that is enough to keep them here.

“I want the players to be happy, see what the future is and be part of it. That is the key to it.

“Keeping your strongest players is paramount, of course it is. It is about not taking away anything, but adding to what we already have.”

Monk says he has utilised his time off productively during a near seven-month sabbatical after leaving Swansea and has monitored training methods at a number of clubs to broaden his knowledge, including Europa League winners Sevilla, who will be in next season’s Champions League.

He said: “I have tried to use my time positively in a way in which you probably don’t get the chance to when you are in a job.

“I have visited other managers and seen how they have worked and bounced ideas off people and watched and analysed a lot of games and analysed myself and my way of working to try and improve myself in that period.

“I have just been out to Sevilla, who have just won the Europa League for the third time and spoke to them and seen the set-up and the manager and watched them and spoke to other managers who I know very well.

“I have also watched a number of other sports as well and seen how they work. It is really just improving your knowledge all the time and that is what you have to do as a young manager.”

Monk has also elaborated on the style of football that he plans to employ at Elland Road and believes that his ‘front-foot’ football will prove a success with United supporters.

On his philosophy, Monk, heavily influenced by his time at Swansea under Brendan Rodgers and Roberto Martinez – who both espoused positive attacking football – added: “I just want the players to be excited and like aggressive, front-foot football. I don’t like to play passive football, but there are times where we need to be adaptable and cannot always have it our own way.

“It is improving the players in terms of their cleverness in approaching games. But I want the fans to be excited and for us to be playing front-foot, attacking football.”