The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

FEW peo­ple out­side Leeds will lament the Whites’ fail­ure to grab a play-off place. That much was ob­vi­ous when Ful­ham trav­elled to Hud­der­s­field a fort­night back. As news of Leeds’ deficit at Burton flashed up on a gi­ant score­board, both sets of sup­port­ers united in a Joy Di­vi­sion-in­spired cho­rus of ‘Leeds are fall­ing apart’. No side elic­its an­i­mos­ity quite like North York­shire’s finest – a car­toon bad­die ac­cused of ar­ro­gance, dirty play and mul­ti­ple other sins down the years. Yet even their most ar­dent critic must re­spect what Garry Monk has achieved. OK, they fell short of the ul­ti­mate prize, but Monk showed great guts. The 38-year-old knew full well that owner Mas­simo Cellino had a trig­ger fin­ger like Clint East­wood. Dur­ing a wretched start, he must have been tempted – like so many of his pre­de­ces­sors – to play prag­matic, safety-first foot­ball. To look af­ter No.1. But he kept plug­ging away, kept im­ple­ment­ing the pos­ses­sion-heavy, counter-at­tack­ing style that max­imised the tal­ents of lost souls like Chris Wood and Liam Brid­cutt. Monk’s sys­tem is still a work in progress that pro­vides some­thing Leeds have long lacked – a sta­ble foun­da­tion and a clear tem­plate on which to base sign­ings. The fear now is that this sea­son will be no more than a mi­rage. That when Monk sits down to de­mand funds in ex­change for sign­ing a new con­tract, Cellino will baulk. That a cut-rate yes man will be ap­pointed in­stead. That ‘trans­fer pol­icy’ will again re­vert to sim­ply throw­ing a net over the lower reaches of Serie A and col­lect­ing the flot­sam. Cellino has of­fered a par­tial re­fund to sea­son-ticket hold­ers af­ter a 3-3 draw with Nor­wich ended their play-off hopes. It’s a gen­er­ous ges­ture, but those sup­port­ers would much pre­fer the Italian saved his cash for Monk’s trans­fer kitty. It will re­quire hard cash – and his­tory tells us Cellino ain’t keen on part­ing with his.

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