Luton v Leeds: United will look to build step by step, says Garry Monk

GARRY MONK may not necessarily like it, but he is smart enough to realise that perception can be a misleading thing in the modern-day game.

Garry Monk encourages his Leeds United side during Saturdays 2-0 derby triumph over Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough (Picture: Bruce Rollinson).

He certainly knows all about that from his short time in charge of Leeds United.

Ahead of the weekend derby at Sheffield Wednesday, the perception – if certain reports were to be believed – was that he was fighting for his job and under serious pressure just four games into the new season after a low-key start to 2016-17.

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Monk, fresh from his side’s accomplished 2-0 victory at Hillsborough, went on to dismiss such talk as “outside nonsense” with the Leeds United head coach more concerned with building a squad who grow incrementally through the season and whose performance graph grows steadily and consistently over the course of the nine-month slog.

His fervent hope is that will continue ahead of the first international break, with back-to-back away fixtures to negotiate, first at Luton Town this evening and then at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

If Leeds emerge unscathed by the close of play this weekend on the back of two further sound displays, perceptions will quickly change and the mood music entering a fortnight-long hiatus will be harmonious.

Should United achieve that, then Monk will not claim any kudos, nor did he after the win against the Owls.

But he would allow himself inward satisfaction at a few building blocks being constructed. Although that is a fair way off yet.

Monk said: “I said before the Sheffield Wednesday game that perception is a big thing in football, but perception is not a big thing for me. It is the reality of what we are doing.

“I think you have seen improvements and we are a new team who are only four league games into what we are trying to do here.

“We want to do it quick and we want to be as ambitious as everyone else, but what we know within the club is that it is a process and that it takes time and we are all very supportive – everyone at the club from the players to myself to the staff and everyone involved at the club as well.

“We understand the process, it is step by step and we will try and make sure that in these two games we really put on good performances and if we can come away with the right result, then of course it leads into the international break.

“But we realise how much work between now and that international break is needed.”

In his previous job at the Liberty Stadium, Monk’s Swansea City ended the League Cup campaigns of two Yorkshire sides at the second-round stage in 2015-16 and 2014-15 with York City and Rotherham United both beaten in the Principality.

Now he is entrusted with making sure that the White Rose flag is flying in the competition in September, along with Hull and Middlesbrough – with Yorkshire’s seven other sides exiting in a torrid opening round on August 9.

Leeds survived the following night after a tense penalty shoot-out win at Fleetwood and Monk is under no illusions about the potential pitfalls ahead of tonight’s tie at Kenilworth Road against a Hatters side who stunned Aston Villa 3-1 in a televised round-one upset, with the scoreline by no means flattering the hosts.

Expecting a battle akin to the one that Leeds endured at the Highbury Stadium, Monk, a League Cup winner during his playing days at Swansea in 2012-13, said: “For sure and we have to be ready for that.

“I think we showed that we were ready against Fleetwood who made it a similar game and a very physical game.

“Luton is a difficult little ground. They will have a good atmosphere, a good crowd and a good backing and they will be motivated by playing against a club from a higher league. They will want to try and get through the round like they did the previous one, so we have to be ready.

“But we want to try and focus on ourselves and try and keep the momentum we have and keep improving like we have in every game and trying to improve again for this game.”

Monk is confident that left-back Charlie Taylor will still be a Leeds player when the summer transfer window closes for business at 11pm on August 31.

The 22-year-old, linked to several Premier League clubs, saw a transfer request rejected at the start of this month.

On whether he is believes that Taylor will stay put at Elland Road, Monk said: “Yes, very sure. It is not even an issue for myself.

“You have seen Charlie’s performances and he has contributed very well, so there is no question of his attitude and commitment to what he is doing and what we are doing here and that is the way it will remain.”

Last six games: Luton WWWDWL, Leeds DLWLDW.

Referee: K Johnson (Somerset).

Last time: Luton 1 Leeds 1; January 26, 2008; League One.