Like everybody else associated with Leeds United, Noel Whelan can’t wait for the visit of Newcastle United next weekend.
The former Leeds star turned pundit, thinks that Garry Monk ‘has probably done a better job’ than Rafa Benitez in the Championship this season.
Whelan believes that the Leeds boss deserves more credit because of the relative resources available to the two managers, despite Rafa Benitez and his team currently holding an 11 point lead over their Yorkshire rivals.
Noel Whelan adding that Garry Monk ‘is a little bit more successful right now than Benitez’.
Sunday’s match could see major changes for both sides in midfield, Leeds are already missing Liam Bridcutt who is recovering from a fracture in his foot, whilst Eunan O’Kane was sent home from international duty after picking up an injury which is currently being assessed.
As for Newcastle, Jonjo Shelvey has a potential ban of at least five matches hanging over him unless he successfully challenges a charge of misconduct, the midfielder having to decide this week whether he is going to fight the charge which relates to an alleged incident during the Wolves Championship match in September.
Noel Whelan says he puts his trust in the Leeds squad to cover any absences but this is the area where you can’t really argue with him in terms of the advantage Rafa Benitez holds, with the Newcastle boss able to assemble a far stronger squad than any other club in the division.
However, as Aston Villa have shown this season, despite spending a similar amount to Newcastle in the summer, that doesn’t automatically lead to success on the pitch.
Rafa took over a right mess at St James Park and whatever credit Garry Monk deserves for dealing with the circus at Elland Road, Rafa Benitez has still done a remarkable job at Newcastle United.
Noel Whelan speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post:
“Newcastle are on fire at the moment, Rafa Benitez seems to have got them firing on all cylinders and he is getting them adjusted to the Championship now and the way of playing and they are seeing the benefits from that.
“But in saying that, they have got international players in their ranks and you would expect Newcastle to be up there.
“With Leeds, I would say Garry Monk has probably done a better job because it’s difficult when you are on a budget and you have got to bring players in and you don’t have money available.
“So really, the job that Garry has done, is probably a little bit harder and he is a little bit more successful right now than Benitez.
“If O’Kane and Liam Bridcutt are both going to be missing against Newcastle then it’s going to be difficult, isn’t it? They have got a lot of experience in their team at Newcastle.
“But in saying that, I would put my trust in the Leeds United players, whether that’s the squad or the XI in general because we saw against Norwich that it’s not just about the XI – it’s about the whole squad and everybody contributing, such as the substitutes when they came on.
“If so, then they have got another opportunity against Newcastle to shine and show the manager why they should be in that starting XI.
“If somebody is injured then that’s your big opportunity and whoever steps in – if O’Kane is injured – will be going out there to show the manager that he wants to keep that spot. It could mean Ronaldo Vieira starting alongside Kalvin Phillips.”