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Opinion: Garry Monk is changing the mentality of Leeds United

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Owner Massimo Cellino and a devoted fan base have continued to display their hunger for promotion over the last few seasons, despite Leeds United having a squad incapable of realistically challenging for promotion back to the Premier League.

When most recent failure, Steve Evans left the club at the end of another disappointing season in the clubs history; speculation began as to who would be the next sacrificial lamb appointed with the impossible task of securing promotion under an owner with notoriously short term expectations.

It was with surprise and nods of admiration and approval when Garry Monk was appointed as the new head coach. That announcement brought an initial wave of optimism back to the club.

Leeds fans were talking positively about the future and with good reason; acknowledging that Monk brought something previously appointed head coaches lacked – Premiership experience.

It was viewed as a good appointment, and few fans could argue that Cellino, despite all his previous misdemeanours, had for once, appointed the right sort of man for the job.

With the appointment of Monk, Leeds showed signs they were prepared to begin thinking like a Premier League club again. This change in mentality is something which previous appointments have been unable to achieve.

The new head coach has not been heard wasting time talking up the style of play he will implement and paying lip service to Cellino by promising fast paced, attractive, free flowing football like so many of his predecessors have.

Cellino has made it pertinently clear that he wants Leeds to be challenging for a promotion place. That is the very minimum he should be expecting and on this he shares common ground with all Leeds fans.

To achieve promotion, Leeds will have to grind out results at times. Something they have struggled with in recent seasons.

Monk accepted the role and instead of promising to play a certain way, he instead insisted on the players he needed bringing into the club to make that dream a realistic target. Over to you Mr Cellino – these are the players I need, get to work!

Of course whenever a new appointment is made, there will be players deemed surplus to requirements. Leeds United had more than their share of under performing, average Joe’s who needed to be moved on before the real work of squad rebuilding could begin.

This again is something his predecessors have all failed to achieve. It is a fundamental part of the job and one which Monk had no issue with. The squad was quickly and ruthlessly cut down, with anyone not adding value leaving Elland Road.

Few of those who departed could hold their head up and say they had deserved to be there and earned the right to wear the famous white shirt. Giuseppe Bellusci, Mirco Antenucci, Scott Wootton, Casper Sloth, Tommaso Bianchi are forgettable and a higher calibre of player was now needed.

The players brought in to Leeds United so far have caused further optimistic chatter to reverberate across social media. Kemar Roofe and Marcus Antonsson for fees believed to be £3m and £2m respectively, have taken some Leeds fans by surprise.

It has been a while since the club has been prepared to spend money on players, when previous seasons have seen those types of names sign elsewhere and flourish for other clubs.

Though both players will have to continue to improve to jump up a level or two from the standard they had been playing, both have intelligence, movement off the ball, pace and a ruthless streak in front of goal. As the season progresses I fully expect each of them to prove their value helping Leeds reach the play-off places.

The acquisition of Rob Green on a free transfer again caused heads to nod in agreement that Leeds had rectified another one of their problem areas. The defence in front of Marco Silvestri has always looked shaky and uncertain.

Rob green has a wealth of experience and he is well accustomed at commanding his area, something Silvestri has always struggled with. It would be hard to imagine Silvestri happily playing understudy to the former England international. The fact he was sent back from the pre season tour of Ireland early suggests he too will be moved on.

There has been interest in his signature during his time at Leeds and Cellino needs to capitalise and maximise the transfer fee received, though it will undoubtedly be an undisclosed figure as ever, that money needs to be handed to Monk for his squad rebuilding.

In Kyle Bartley on a season long loan Leeds have a player who was a few years ago being touted as a future England international. Things have not quite worked out for Bartley and he has had several loan moves to get some regular first team football.

He arrives at Leeds with something to prove to himself and to the football world. He will become the rock at the heart of a Leeds defence with Cooper and Bamba battling to play alongside him.

Matt Grimes and Hadi Sakho are both positive loan signings also, bringing something that has been lacking; pace and intelligence on the pitch. It remains to be seen how much game time each will achieve, but neither will have travelled to West Yorkshire with the intention of warming the bench.

Lee Erwin being loaned to Oldham for the season is a huge opportunity for the youngster to get some much needed game time and the rebuilding of his confidence. He is likely to score goals at that level and should return to Leeds much better for it.

The sale of Lewis Cook did hit Leeds fans hard and though some can see funds up to £10m being vital in attracting a high calibre of player, it has caused universal disappointment.

Losing Cook, however, could prove to deliver a more realistic opportunity to challenge for promotion. No single player makes a team and Leeds will continue rebuilding without him. There is no time to look back just yet as Monk and his men continue working through pre season.

Charlie Taylor is another youngster who is likely to be sold due to him being in the last year of his contract and his apparent refusal to discuss a new deal.

Reports suggest Leeds are currently in discussions with Walsall about bringing in Rico Henry for a fee in the region of £1m. If that deal is completed it will not be long before a club statement revealing details of the club Taylor has joined.

One key factor in assessing Leeds United’s chances of a promotion push during the new campaign is to acknowledge the majority of the transfer dealings conducted have been done at the start of pre season.

The squad sounds like a cohesive unit and togetherness is already forming, unlike previous seasons when Leeds have conducted their business at the end of the transfer window period after pre season has all but finished.

In doing so it has been akin to picking the fat kid in PE at school when everyone has been selected. This season Leeds have formed the foundations of their squad early. There are a few extra players likely to be added to the squad, but these should complement the players already in place.

Add to that the inclusion of a hand full of U-21 players to the first team squad and there may just be worth watching as serious contenders.

Since Monk’s appointment Leeds have been slowly building momentum in preparation for those challenging first few weeks of the new campaign; where the eyes of the football world will be watching, holding their breath waiting for Leeds to fail again. Expectations that Cellino will remove another head coach from the Elland Road hot seat will be in the minds of many.

In Garry Monk and the players Leeds have brought in, they may have finally found a formula that works. It will be a long season and it remains to be seen if Cellino can keep his head long enough to allow Monk to achieve where all others have failed.

Leeds fans what do you think of the appointment of the head coach or pre season build up so far? Do you think Leeds have a realistic chance of challenging for promotion? Will life go on for Leeds without Lewis Cook? Which players do you feel Cellino needs to sign to make pomotion a realistic target?




Writer and Poet originally from Leeds, but currently living in exile on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. A Leeds United fan since the early 80's I have witnessed the dark days of the old second division all the way up to the spectacle of the European glory nights under David O'Leary. Optimistic about the teams chances for promotion in the 2016/17 season. #MOT

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Garry Monk is changing the mentality of Leeds United

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