Garry Monk: A year in charge
4th February 2015
Today marks a year to the day in which Garry Monk took over the managerial reigns at Swansea City. On February 4, 2014 - and with the club just two points clear of the relegation zone - Monk stepped into the breach until the end of the season as the man who spent ten years at the club as a player, eventually guided the Swans to Premier League safety. And after another solid first half of the current campaign, we caught up with Monk to reflect on his first 12 months in the Liberty Stadium hot seat...
Garry, how would you sum up your first 12 months in charge?
In some instances it seems a lot longer than a year! In other moments it has gone quite quickly, but all in all its been a really enjoyable 12 months. We have all worked hard, not just myself but the staff around me and the players too. Everyone has helped each other and its been really good.
You had to make that transition from player to manager very quickly - was it as difficult as you might have imagined?
Being captain helped a lot of terms of being a leader and being comfortable speaking in front of the group, and having that understanding of what football is. Of course it has been difficult as well - there is a lot to do if you want to do things properly and take on a lot of hard work. But that's what I'm willing to do and I already feel like a better manager already just 12 months down the line. And I'm sure that in the future I'll get better and develop even more.
But it wasn't just in your professional life where things were busy - you had newborn twins to cope with as well...
It's been quite an incredible 12 months. There's been a lot of sleepless nights, for one reason or another, and the family have been fantastic throughout. My wife and myself have helped each other massively and the club have been great in terms of helping me support that situation. That is something that I was very grateful for, particularly in the summer when I knew that I'd be doing the job permanently - to make sure that my wife was going to be okay with the children and that we had the support we needed for me to do the job.
You always had a great relationship with the supporters when you were a player - did you feel any added pressure or expectation when you became manager?
It was just a case of not letting them down. I've built up a good relationship with them and lived amongst the people of Swansea for the best part of 11 years. I know what the club means, not just to myself but to the people in this city, so I just tried to concentrate on not letting people down. I hope that at this point that is the case, but having that relationship was also extra motivation for me.
Describe to us an average day as a Premier League manager...
I wake up at 6am and normally arrive at the training ground at around 7.30am. Sometimes we have a double training session - one in the morning and another in the afternoon - but I'll often finish at around 4.30pm before going home and spending the next few hours with the kids and giving them quality time. I'll then have dinner with the wife and we'll chat about various things before I start my preparation until around midnight for the next day.
Many players and pundits have stated publicly what a good job you have done so far - how important has it been for you to have that backing so early on in your managerial career?
I don't rely on it, but of course it is nice to hear feedback that you're doing a good job. It's nice for the rest of my staff too, as well as the players themselves, the chairman and supporters of the club. It won't determine what I do but if people talk well about you then it must mean that you're doing something right. Hopefully people get to talk about us even more in the future and that will mean that we have pushed on again and improved even further.
Is there a difference between winning as a player and winning as a manager?
There's a massive difference. You still feel emotional as a player and as a manager, whether you win or lose, but the main difference is that when you win as a manager it doesn't last long. You immediately look ahead to the next game or training session and the planning and preparation that goes into it. Whereas as a player, that winning feeling can sometimes last all week and you can look back at the emotion that you felt on that given day. When I was a player I was a bad loser and hated being beat, but when you're a manager that feeling is ten times worse because you've put in all that work with your staff to prepare the team as best you can and it doesn't come off.
Is there anything that you would have done differently if given the chance again?
On the whole, I've been very happy with how things have gone. Of course there has been a few mistakes, but if you don't make those mistakes then you can never learn and improve. I don't think I've made any catastrophic mistakes but the little things that I might have done differently have helped me improve, not just now but in the future as well. Ultimately, however, I think it has gone really well.
What has been your best and worst moments of the last 12 months?
In terms of matches, the Cardiff game was obviously a huge highlight. With everything that was riding on it, the situation we found ourselves in, the rivalry, the fact they had the chance to do the double for the first time in history - all of those factors led to it being a standout moment. But there's been plenty of others - winning away at Manchester United on the opening day of the season, the win over Arsenal and victory at Southampton only recently. The worst moment was probably the defeat against Chelsea at home, not just the result but the performance as well. But it's all part of the process, sometimes you need to suffer in order to get better.
You have acquired 51 points from 37 games which is the best record of a Swansea City manager in the Premier League era. That must be incredibly pleasing for yourself?
I'd be happy with that total at the end of this season! That would be a fantastic achievement. But the managers we've had in the Premier League have all done very well for us, and I'm always looking to compete and better that. That's what I'm trying to develop here and if we are reaching those totals then we are moving in the right direction. You can only really be judged at the end of a season and see whether there has been a progression.
What can people expect in the next 12 months?
I've certainly got a plan in my head. But football is changing all the time - teams are playing in different systems and using different players. The possession game will always be our identity, but other teams are trying to do that as well now so its becoming increasingly difficult to dominate games as much as we did before. It's trying to find a way of evolving and keeping us ahead of the rest and develop the defensive and attacking side of our game.