Retain Garry Monk at Leeds United despite play-off heartache says Eddie Gray

Nick Howson
Garry Monk

Garry Monk must be retained by Leeds United beyond the end of the season, according to former Whites player and manager Eddie Gray. The Elland Road side are destined to miss out on a play-off place in the Championship after a run of four games without a win saw Fulham overhaul an eight-point deficit and leapfrog them into sixth with a game to spare.

Only an unprecedented 14-goal swing on the final day of the season will see Leeds grab a top six place, meaning their wait to return to the Premier League for the first time since 2004 must go on another season.

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Central to those ambitions of returning to the top flight is the future of Monk, who is out of contract at Leeds at the end of the season. Several high profile sides including Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Birmingham City may all be looking for a new manager in the summer and there is nothing stopping any of the trio luring Monk away from Leeds.

Talks over a new deal are expected to take place after Leeds' final game against already-relegated Wigan Athletic and Gray says it is no brainer that Monk, 38, stays on. "As far as I'm concerned there's no decision to make," he told the Yorkshire Evening Post. "There's no doubt in my mind that Garry should be here next season. The job he's done has been good enough to deserve that. I'd hope the talk of a change is just speculation.

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"Last season and the season before, you were going to games thinking so many of them were a waste of time. This season you've been going thinking something might actually happen. That's the difference and it's the first time in a while that people thought this was going to be our year. You've seen it in the gates at Elland Road and the atmosphere. The players have blown it in the end but you've got to give them credit for going close."

Monk cited a lack of experience in his squad which saw Leeds collapse in the race for the play-offs. Draws with Newcastle United and Norwich City sandwiched defeated to Burton Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers as the club spiralled down the division. Gray however believes there is enough know-how in the current teams but that fresh additions are required in the summer.

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"The pressure was on and when it came to the crunch we fell down," he added. "Of the teams who were going for the top six, we were the team who couldn't cope. But pressure is part of football and I don't think you can blame that alone. With the advantage the club had at the start of April they should have been capable of making the top six but the team were found wanting.

"What Garry's maybe trying to say in his own way is he'll need to improve the squad before next season. I'd agree with that. Nerves can play a part but if you've got enough quality you'd always be confident of getting over the line. The one area of the team that was never settled was the midfield. Across the middle of the park it was always changing.

"To go at promotion next season they're going to have to be better. Take nothing away from the effort and the results but does this squad have promotion in the locker? That's the question you've got to ask."

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