Thursday 22 February 2018

Monk wants to see exciting Swansea

Garry Monk welcomes Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium
Garry Monk welcomes Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium

Swansea boss Garry Monk has called on his team to excite him in the closing months of the season - starting against Manchester United on Saturday.

By the manager's own admission Swansea have been below par in recent weeks after enjoying an impressive first half to the season, winning only one of their last seven Barclays Premier League games and suffering an FA Cup defeat at Championship club Blackburn.

But Monk believes a 10-day break from action has served his squad well as Swansea seek to rediscover the form which brought them an opening-day win at United and their highest points tally at the halfway mark of a Premier League campaign.

"I am not here to be average or have players perform averagely," Monk said with his side sitting ninth in the table ahead of United's revenge mission at the Liberty Stadium.

"I don't want that. I want to stand on the sidelines and be excited by what I see from my team, and players want to be excited by the football they play.

"The fans want to be excited too. That is the plan but getting there is a process and not instant.

"A lot has happened in the year with the turnover of players I have had, but overall I can only pick five games out of 25 where I was really disappointed with how we performed."

The concern for Monk is most of those poor performances have come in the past month since the sale of top scorer Wilfried Bony to Manchester City, with Swansea struggling to fill the void left by the free-scoring Ivorian.

But Monk insists Swansea can not allow their campaign to fizzle out because that would also have a detrimental effect on next season.

"The problem in football is people only ever judge you on the last 10 to 15 games of a season," Monk said.

"I've known that from experience and that's why it's such an important period.

"We have to do as well as we can to really finish the season well and go into the summer with real positive momentum.

"The group are aware of that and it's my responsibility to get the team back to those consistent levels we've had for the next 13 games."

Swansea will be boosted against United by the return of Gylfi Sigurdsson, who has completed a three-match suspension for his FA Cup red card at Blackburn.

Louis van Gaal has been left with another selection conundrum after he revealed Robin van Persie will be back for Manchester United.

Van Persie missed the 3-1 win over Preston on Monday because of an unspecified injury, but the striker is in the squad for this weekend's game at the Liberty Stadium.

His return means Van Gaal will have to decide whether to hand his Dutch compatriot a start at the expense of Wayne Rooney or Radamel Falcao - or drop his captain into midfield.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference at the AON Training Complex, the United boss said: "Michael Carrick is the only injury."

Van Gaal expects Carrick to return to training next week, but the Swansea game has come too soon for the midfielder, who suffered a calf injury last month.

Defender Phil Jones, however, is fit for the match at Liberty Stadium having overcome his knee problem.

The reverse fixture on the opening weekend of the season will go down as one of the low points of Van Gaal's reign.

United went into the match on the back of a perfect pre-season campaign in which they had beaten the Los Angeles Galaxy, Inter Milan, Roma, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Valencia.

But the Red Devils lost 2-1 to Monk's side and, to borrow a phrase from the United boss, his squad's confidence was "smashed" as a result.

Seven months later, despite some lethargic and unimaginative performances, Van Gaal thinks his team have got their swagger back - and he may have a point, given that United are third in the table having lost just once in their last 19 matches.

"We came from the United States where we had won everything, so that was a big shock (to lose against Swansea)," Van Gaal said, reflecting on the opening-day defeat at Old Trafford.

"After that we lost a lot of points even though we were the better team, because we couldn't score enough at that time.

"I think that the confidence at this moment is the same as (after the tour).

"When you see the scores of the last 19 or 20 matches we are the best team in the league. So that is why I think confidence is also high like it was at the beginning.

"The players know and have experience of playing in the system with my philosophy."

Press Association

Promoted Links

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport