MONK DESERVES RESPECT – AND A PROMISE OF FUNDS
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.