Promotion possible for Leeds now Cellino has embraced patience
The Championship has never been a more dangerous working environment for managers, with a farcical five of the men hired this summer already sacked.
Yet the biggest shock isn’t that Paul Trollope (Cardiff), Alan Stubbs (Rotherham), Nigel Pearson (Derby), Roberto Di Matteo (Aston Villa) and Walter Zenga (Wolves) were all ditched by October, but that often-impetuous Leeds owner Massimo Cellino resisted temptation to add Garry Monk to that list.
The former Swansea boss was recruited in pre-season to replace Steve Evans, who had overseen the club’s highest finish under the Italian businessman with a 13th place last term, so it seems fair to assume that he was demanding an improvement on that.
Instead, the Yorkshire giants opened with 3-0 and 2-1 defeats to QPR and Birmingham, going on to lose four of their first six games and win just one. At the six-match checkpoint, they were in the relegation zone with four points, and the expectation was that Cellino would make a change.
However, even though there was more vindication for rash action than on many of the occasions that he has prematurely pulled the trigger in the past, Cellino decided to give Monk a chance to transform the situation, and has been richly rewarded for remaining relaxed.
The Whites have won six of their last nine Championship fixtures – the only losses occurring by a 1-0 margins away to Bristol City and Derby – accompanying that form with a run to the EFL Cup quarter-finals. It has lifted them to ninth in the table, a point shy of the play-off places.
The most impressive aspect of the ascent – and the one which suggests that it is sustainable rather than a purple patch exploiting a favourable schedule – has been their defensive strength.
Twelve encounters have passed since Leeds were last breached more than once over 90 minutes and they have kept five clean sheets in 10, not conceding a first-half goal in their past 10 league outings.
Sterner tests of their promotion pedigree lie ahead, starting on Saturday when they visit the Norwich side that they recently knocked out of the EFL Cup. Monk’s men are 15/2 to win to nil there.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.