Garry Monk is Creating a Bubble of Sanity Within Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

Leeds United 2, Burton Albion 0

Little by little, bit by bit, things are looking up at Elland Road, as Leeds United manager Garry Monk appears to be insulating the football side of the club from the madness that has dogged the West Yorkshire giants over the past decade or so. Thus protected, and focused on the business of actually kicking a ball about, the men in All White appear to be quietly thriving. That focus, that separation from the bigger picture of court cases and ownership wrangles – that is what has elevated the level of performance achieved by Monk’s team above and beyond the efforts made under previous managers. 

It’s a factor that will be instrumental in any success United may enjoy this season and – incredibly – football’s craziest club does appear to be poised for success, as things currently stand. Ninth in the table, just a point outside the playoffs, and EFL Cup quarter finalists with a TV date against Liverpool at Anfield to come, damn your eyes. It seems almost too good to be true. Success is all relative, but for the current vintage of Leeds, this is as close to that elusive commodity as we could reasonably imagine. Is better yet to come? Well, you never know.

I’ve thought for a while that, the longer certain non-football personnel within the club can stay out of the limelight, the better the chances will be for the club to succeed where it matters, on the park. In previous seasons, things have been going reasonably well – but there’s been this tendency for those of us who love the club to twitch nervously, all too well aware that something would probably happen to derail us. And then it would happen – a loco rant from the boardroom in the local press, an inexplicable sacking or two – and it’d be as if the players’ heads went down and they were thinking “what kind of Fred Karno’s army outfit are we playing for here?”

This season, that dreaded twitch has been noticeable by its absence. We’ve had our bad times, and even Monk himself has been guilty of the odd gaffe. But overall, his stewardship of the football club has been characterised by a serenity, and a steadfast determination to get on with business, that has permitted no distractions to interfere with the steady progress being made.

It’s progress that has been solid if unspectacular, but Monk has made a point of commenting that the players are a group growing in togetherness and unity of purpose. Within that insulating bubble the manager has created, the squad seems happier and much better able to function as professional footballers. The difference this has made to the angst and anarchy of previous seasons is difficult to over-stress. But you only have to look at the results and performances to see that it is so.

There is still chaos and uncertainty abroad at the higher levels of the club, there’s no point in beating about the bush on that one. As we’ve seen in previous years, it’s the kind of thing that can spread throughout the whole place and negatively affect playing matters. In a highly professional and competitive environment, tiny differences can have a vast effect on relative performance – and United have thus been at a disadvantage compared to calmer, better-run clubs. The credit due to Monk for creating a vacuum between the footballing aspect of the club, and the nuttiness elsewhere around Elland Road, must be immense. It’s Monk we have to thank for the fact that we don’t look as daft nowadays on the field as we still frequently do off it. 

Today, against Burton Albion, Leeds got the job done without having to be particularly brilliant. Hard work, concentration and commitment proved to be sufficient unto the day, and two late goals from Wood and Doukara saw off determined and tough opposition before whom last season’s United might well have wilted. It was an object lesson in earning the right to win – and then pouncing just in time. 

Monk seems to be building a team and an ethos upon traditional lines; work hard, don’t accept defeat, show grit and determination, keep going to the end. That will get you a hell of a long way against most teams in this league, as was evident against Clough Junior’s men today, and also our frequent nemesis Norwich City in midweek. The foundations are being laid in blood, sweat and tears; the brilliance can and will come later.

So, it’s onwards and upwards for United on the field – and long may that continue. And, as long as Garry Monk is allowed to get on with doing his job, his way, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be at least guardedly optimistic for the future. Monk has an air of confidence about him that inspires faith and belief, in players and fans alike. He seems to expect to succeed, and there’s a determination about him to keep that vital separation of football matters from everything else. 

Winning is what matters. All else is secondary and subordinate to that. Such seems to be the Monk Mantra. Let’s hope that everybody connected to the club understands and accepts it. 

10 responses to “Garry Monk is Creating a Bubble of Sanity Within Leeds United   –   by Rob Atkinson

  1. I think a lot of credit has to go to Ben Mansford who seems to have been able to put a lead & muzzle on that rottweiler Cellino! Solid back 4 making us a hard team to beat


  2. Really happy with Garry Monk as Leeds manager,I especially like his attention to detail no matter how small. It reminds me of two previous and incredibly successful Leeds managers. My only concern is up front though,we need more options if we are to progress. In a few weeks we play Newcastle and my life will be made miserable should we lose. If we stop Shelvey then we stop Newcastle,everything happens via him. They also have a cabbage called Paul dummett in defence,man he’s bad. If we beat them then there’ll be no stopping us,they’re already making snide remarks about Cellino on their Mag site. I wouldn’t mind normally,but when you have a gang master as owner you shouldn’t really be calling others.


    • I’ve got a Toon fan mate or two. My life would be misery too.


    • Scally Lad

      I’m apprehensive too. We’ve done well against the bottom feeders this season, but we’re about to be tested by sterner stuff. These will be the tests that show whether we have the mettle to make it to the playoffs this season!


  3. My brother in law is a Geordie down here but also a season ticket holder at Town. Try living with that.
    Long way to go, and there are going to be upsets but hey, this is a feeling I have not had for a very long time.MOT


  4. Ken Jarvis

    The sleeping giant 😪😪 may finally be awaking


  5. peacock273

    Over in the States for a short while and having to get results etc via t’interweb but liking what I’m hearing. Have managed to get to ER a few times this season and seen us WIN. For the first time in AGES have a sense of optimism. If we can get a result at Norwich, I shall, actually approach the Stadium of Eternal Hope for the Newcastle game actually believing we can beat them.
    BTW, glad to see you back making regular appearances. Missed you, man.


  6. Can’t help it, still feel tense thinking the bubble will burst…winning is a habit and believing in this team has to become habit too. All too often we have had sensed the smallest glimpses of hope only for it to be dashed in the most embarrassing and crashing to earth style. I sincerely hope this optimism is the beginning of something great…could it really happen this year?? Can you just imagine how bloody good it would feel !!! MOT


    • I guess we have to grit our teeth and keep the faith, but I know how you feel. Then again, such is Mr. Monk’s apparent serenity that I genuinely haven’t got the twitch this season. Not so far, anyway. And the wind of change might be blowing about the place anyway, I really think that a big ownership change is on the way.


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