In a strange press conference previewing Wednesday’s game between Sheffield Wednesday and Blues, Garry Monk has hit out at his former colleague Pep Clotet.
Monk queried Pep’s loyalty, and passive aggressively questioned whether his title is “interim” or “caretaker” head coach.
I loved Monk as our boss. Steering us to safety in the 2017-18 season and successfully avoiding any final-day drama in the 2018-19 season was good enough for me, so the drama over the summer was surprising.
Many Blues fans were initially shocked when the announcement was made that Monk had been sacked on 18 June.
What followed was a bizarre series of briefings and counter-briefings from Blues and Monk’s camp, including an on-the-record interview from our Chief Executive Xuandong Ren with The Times, and a detailed blow-by-blow of the events in The Mirror.
Ren claimed that Monk was sacked for two reasons; firstly, he wanted his agent, James Featherstone, involved in every transfer deal, and secondly, he refused to change our style of play to more possession-based.
Since Monk, who has refuted these claims, departed Blues, many of his backroom team have also left.
Monk and Pep have worked together at quite a few clubs over a number of years, so I assumed that, despite Pep stepping up to fill Monk’s shoes, their underlying friendship, or at least respect, would still remain.
Step forward, Mr Monk. His first response when asked about Pep was:
“In terms of the, I don’t know what it is, is it interim, caretaker head coach?”
Not so subtle. He then went on to say the following:
“I think what’s most important to me when I’m assembling a staff around me is to give them opportunity. You show them complete trust and you hope they repay that trust with hard work and loyalty.
“Sadly not everyone has those values in their character. Some choose to pursue their own opportunities in the worst possible way.
“I think the most important thing for me is you live and you learn.
“I didn’t listen to a lot of people in football circles who warned me about the type of character he is, but, yeah, that’s an error in judgment from myself.
“It was an error in judgment by me, but it’s an error I won’t make in the future.”
Pretty strong stuff. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen such a personal attack from one manager on another. I’m unsure how Pep will take it, but his comments to Brian Dick before Monk’s press conference implied that he’s the sort of person who would rise above it:
“As far as I am concerned there is no issue between the two of us, of course, it’s football, it’s three points, that’s the only thing that is in contention.”
And as if this story couldn’t get any more bizarre, Blues tweeted the following shortly after footage of Monk’s press conference emerged (perhaps showing that the club won’t rise above it):
Followed on Wednesday by Chung Ying owner James Wong, tweeting the following…
— James B Wong (@Jamesbwong) November 27, 2019
Under Pep, our style of football has definitely improved from Monk-ball i.e. hoof it up to Juke, who knocks it on the Che. We have more players who are of a better quality that have helped to improve our style, and Pep is able to chop and change depending on the opponent, something with Monk didn’t want, or wasn’t able, to do.
I’m not sure whether Pep was in the right to take the job after Monk left, or whether Monk’s animosity towards Pep is justified. Either way, Pep’s team talk for Wednesday has just written itself. Here’s hoping it will spur us on to leave Hillsborough with all three points.