GARRY Monk is ready for the challenge that awaits him as Swansea’ City new head coach, starting with Saturday’s acid test at home to arch-rivals Cardiff, saying: “I will give everything I have.”
Monk and first-team coach Alan Curtis oversaw their first training session yesterday after the Swans parted company with manager Michael Laudrup. Along the M4 meanwhile, Cardiff enjoyed a massive pre-derby boost by announcing that Scotland goalkeeper David Marshall has signed a contract extension committing him to the club until 2018.
Laudrup’s abrupt departure, announced on Tuesday night, has been backed by the Swansea City Supporters’ Trust, with the club currently sitting just two points above the Barclays Premier League danger zone following a run of one win from ten games. The Dane was followed through the exit door by his assistant, former Celtic midfielder Morten Wieghorst, fitness coach Oscar Garcia and overseas scout Erik Larsen.
Long-serving defender Monk, a former club captain, and Swansea stalwart Curtis have been put in charge “for the foreseeable future”.
“I will give everything I have for Swansea City. I will promise the fans that. And I will ensure the players do exactly the same,” Monk, 34, told Swansea’s website. “We are all in this together, and I will make sure we stick together. That is what Swansea City has been all about for as long as I can remember.
“I know this club inside out, and I will try to use that knowledge to the betterment of Swansea City. I also know how important this football club is to the fans. They are the important ones in all this, and we will all fight every inch of the way for them. This is a proud moment for me, and I aim to do the best possible for this club and the loyal supporters.”
Problems first surfaced last summer when Laudrup and Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins fell out over transfer targets. The club subsequently opted to cut all ties with Laudrup’s agent Bayram Tutumlu. It is understood tensions have remained during the current season, and there has been disquiet about the intensity of training sessions.
With Laudrup gone, and Monk and Curtis now heading up coaching operations, attention has already switched to who might become Laudrup’s long-term successor, with former Swansea and current Everton assistant manager Graeme Jones a strong candidate with bookies.
The Supporters’ Trust, which owns more than 20 per cent of the club’s shares, supported the decision and called on fans to get behind Monk and the players “in the tough battles ahead”.
Monk faces a baptism of fire, with Swansea gearing up for a remaining February schedule of six games in 20 days – league appointments with Cardiff, Stoke and Liverpool, an FA Cup tie at Everton, plus home and away Europa League clashes against Napoli.
Trust chairman Phil Sumbler said the Trust had been aware of “growing concerns” on the club board regarding Premier League performances. In a statement, the Trust said: “During its tenure, the current board, including a representative of the Supporters’ Trust, has made key decisions which have taken the club forward, and ultimately we believe that this decision has been taken with the best interest of the club in mind. We all want to see an upturn in results, and what better place to start than at the Liberty Stadium against Cardiff City?”
Cardiff will arrive on a high after securing Marshall on a new deal. The 28-year-old former Celtic goalkeer has been with the Welsh club for four and a half years aftre joining from Norwich. Marshall has made 88 saves so far this season – more than any other Barclays Premier League goalkeeper – and has missed just one league game since November 2011.
“I’m delighted to have committed my future to Cardiff City,” said Marshall. “I’ve had a fantastic four and half years here already and I’m looking forward to enjoying many more with the club.
“We’ve a lot of hard work left to do this season, but we’re a confident group and have plenty of ability and belief. Not having my contract to think about any more is a relief and it means I can continue focusing on helping us win football matches.”