Leeds United's '˜great week' has fans beginning to believe
Garry Monk has been able to reflect on his best week as Leeds United head coach after overseeing progress in league and cup with the Whites.
It does not come much better these days than the back to back Championship victories and clean sheets either side of a thrilling penalty shoot-out success to go through to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup which have seen a real positive mood sweep back into Elland Road.
Crowds are back on the up – the forthcoming home game with Newcastle is a sell-out – and with Leeds fans able to look forward to a return to Anfield to relive past glories against Liverpool in the last eight of the cup as well as seeing their side now just one point off the play-off places there is a growing belief that the good times could just be on their way back after years in the doldrums.
Monk is not allowing any of his players to get carried away, but is delighted to see progress continuing to be made with a 2-0 win over Burton following hot on the heels of the excitement of the cup success.
He said: “There is great spirit and the boys are confident, there is a good mood around the place and we have had a great week.
“The whole squad is contributing, everyone has helped us achieve these results this week and I have seen everything I want to see.
“We are fighting until the end in every game and I can see the group growing every week.
“Even though we didn’t get the performance we’d like (against Burton), the fans kept backing us and drove us on to get the win and that is important.
“The crowd are really into the positive mentality now, that relationship is growing all the time and it is important that everybody recognises that and we continue in that way.
“I want the fans to be excited and I want them to enjoy it. We know inside we have to be very focused on each game and we have to be ready for the next game as it comes.”
United’s next game is now a re-run against Norwich with the league game at Carrow Road on Saturday likely to arouse plenty of interest and offering a chance to possibly climb into the top six for the Whites.
They will be aware, however, that they will be facing a team still smarting from a surprise 5-0 drubbing at Brighton last Saturday on the back of their penalty shoot-out loss at Elland Road.
How many of the same players will be on duty as in the cup game will be interesting as both brought in eight players on that night and reverted straight back to their usual starting line-ups in the following game.
Monk will be likely to stick with the 11 that started against Burton, although Stuart Dallas, who failed a fitness test for the game, is expected to come back into contention.
The head coach was also given food for thought by a big contribution off the bench by forward Souleymane Doukara, who was brought down for the penalty put away by Chris Wood for the opening goal on 83 minutes then scored the second in injury-time.
This was his first goal of the season and came off the back of his impressive display a few days earlier when he had started in the cup tie.
The way he has battled back into strong first team contention after looking on his way out at the club has pleased his boss and has certainly given him more options up front. Doukara is still likely to stay on the bench, however, if Monk continues with his 4-2-3-1 formation.