GARRY MONK insists his sole focus is on Leeds United’s promotion push despite admitting talks are yet to begin over a possible contract extension.
The 37-year-old has transformed the Elland Road club’s fortunes since becoming the sixth managerial appointment of Massimo Cellino’s reign. United will head to Birmingham City tomorrow sitting fourth in the Championship and hoping to extend the gap on the chasing pack in the race for the play-offs to 11 points.
It is a remarkable upturn in fortunes for a club who had spent the previous five seasons as the very epitome of mid-table mediocrity.
Despite that, Monk, who signed a one-year deal last summer, is yet to begin discussions over a possible contract extension with the Elland Road hierarchy].
“I haven’t spoken to the club,” said Monk yesterday when asked about possibly extending his stay in West Yorkshire beyond the end of the season.
“But, to be honest, I am very much focused on the football and getting my team prepared for Friday. My contract runs to the summer so there is still a lot of time to speak about that situation.
It’s not important right now. The most important bit is that we focus on this game at BirminghamLeeds United manager, Garry Monk
“My priority right now is preparing this team for an important game and an important three points.
“I am contracted to the summer. We haven’t sat down and spoken but there’s a lot of time between now and the end of the season. It’s not important right now. The most important bit is that we focus on this game at Birmingham.”
Monk arrived at Elland Road with a reputation as a shrewd operator who had been hard done to in his previous job at Swansea City. Despite leading the Welsh club to a record points tally in the Premier League during his first full season at the helm, he was dismissed in December, 2015.
Accepting the offer to take charge of Leeds last June seemed a risk due to Cellino’s policy of hiring and firing but Monk, after a slow start, has done a fine job.
Soon after buying a 50 per cent stake in United from Cellino early this year, Andrea Radrizzani hinted that the club planned to sit down and open negotiations with Monk.
That, though, has clearly not happened yet but Monk, described recently by both Mick McCarthy and Neil Warnock as the Championship’s manager of the year, is adamant that he is relaxed about the situation.
Instead, the United chief is more concerned with tomorrow night’s outing at St Andrews against a Birmingham side that has finally started to show some promising form under Gianfranco Zola.
“I have to be honest, my focus is on right now,” added Monk. “We haven’t achieved anything yet and we have to stay focused. My side of it isn’t important.
“Right now, we need to keep preparing the team to achieve winning performances and get this club to a better place.”
Charlie Taylor will be part of the squad at St Andrews after finally recovering from the niggling Achilles problem that had kept the left back out since before Christmas.
Monk would not be drawn yesterday as to whether he will go straight back into a side who have done well in the full back’s absence, thanks in the main to the form of Gaetano Berardi.
“Charlie has come back, he is training very well along with the rest of the group,” added the United head coach.
“Fitness-wise, he is lucky that he is very naturally fit but he still works incredibly hard. Charlie is back in, he is competing and - whether I feel he is ready for this game or the next game - the clear thing for me is that he will be needed at some point in the future.
“His job is to be ready which he knows - like all the other players.”
Tyler Denton, whose most recent appearance came in the FA Cup fourth round defeat to non-League Sutton United, is out for six weeks following knee surgery.