With so much upheaval for so long at Elland Road and no sign of stability in sight, does the arrival of the new manager signal a turn of events?
Garry Monk was unveiled as the new Leeds boss in early June after replacing Steve Evans. The 37-year-old signed a one-year rolling contract with the Championship club and is back in football after being sacked by the Swans in December 2015 after 18 months in charge of the Premier League side.
“I want to be challenged and really get my teeth into a big project,” he told the club website. “That was the underlying factor throughout the whole process and that’s the reason why I’m here today.”
Monk, who spent 10 years at Swansea as a player, becomes the sixth full-time head coach appointed by Leeds owner Massimo Cellino since June 2014.
Monk will be tasked with attempting to lead the club back to the top flight of English football for the first time since they were relegated 2004.
Leeds have already promised to give fans who buy a season ticket for 2016/17 a refund of up to 50% if they fail to reach the play-offs. A bold call.
Cellino said: “Garry is part of a new generation of coaches in England and has a lot of potential to develop, which is something we were targeting for the new season.
“I believe he’s very suited to continuing the growth of our young and improving team. He will bring new strengths and a lot of energy to the squad.”
In an interview with The Yorkshire Post, Monk revealed what Leeds fans can expect from his team: “Words are easy to say but I like my teams to be aggressive,” he said. “I like us to get on the front foot, I like us to have the ball and to be possession-based but not in terms of statistics or keeping the ball for the sake of it. I don’t want to come off the pitch with 800 passes and be happy about that when we’ve not won the game or scored any goals.”
“I want the players to be excited by the football they’re playing and I want the fans to be excited by the football they’re watching. The worst thing for me would be people coming in, paying their money and watching what they think is boring football. But the bottom line at the end of it all is that you have to play winning football. You have to be a winning team.”
As many before him have, Monk won’t find Cellino easy to work for or with and the Italian owner will not be slow in coming forward if things aren’t right on the pitch. The owner, after all, wants the best for Leeds United, but Monk has his work cut out in getting the Elland Road club promoted quickly.
After a pre-season game against Shamrock Rovers, Monk was interviewed by The Yorkshire Evening Post.
“You have to be a hard taskmaster. I want perfection or to get as close to it as I can. The players know it. I said to them at the end ‘good work these two weeks’ but we’ll be back in (this week) and we have to be ready to go again.
“Pushing forward is the key. There’s no short-term to it. We don’t just turn up tomorrow as a better team. We have to stay focused.”
Monk is already building his squad with six additions made in the first two weeks of pre-season. Veteran goalkeeper Rob Green, Kemar Roofe and Marcus Antonsson are already making an impact, although Monk lost Lewis Cook to Bournemouth. There are a few young stars at Leeds and bigger teams are hovering once again, just as West Ham did with Sam Byram in January.
It will be up to Monk to bring in the right kind of players, those with the right attitude and hunger to wear the white shirt and to blend experience with the youth already starting to blossom.
“The squad needs more strength,” Monk said. “It’s a very long season, a lot of games and I don’t feel we’re quite at full strength. But as I said before, the club know that and I’m sure in the next few days and weeks we’ll strengthen and you’ll see new players coming in.
Happier times ahead? With Garry Monk in charge, it seems more likely now than before.