Steve Evans will remain in his job as Leeds United head coach for Saturday’s clash with Bolton Wanderers – despite a warning from owner Massimo Cellino that he is “talking too much”.
Cellino told Sky that he would not sack Evans as speculation mounted about the 53-year-old’s position in the wake of a dire 4-0 defeat at Brighton on Monday.
Evans’ future as first-team boss was placed in doubt after Cellino left the Amex at half-time with Leeds trailing by four goals and ordered Evans not to speak to the media afterwards.
United’s assistant, Paul Raynor, was interviewed by Sky Sports at full-time but Leeds refused to carry out further media duties and neither Raynor nor Evans attended the post-match press conference.
Evans travelled home with United’s squad, however, and his players reported into Thorp Arch for a recovery session yesterday afternoon.
Cellino, who has already replaced five previous head coaches in his two-year reign as owner of Leeds, has now given Evans his backing, confirming that the former Rotherham United boss will be in charge for Saturday’s Championship meeting with Bolton.
Evans has a deal to the end of the season and he claimed last week that he and Cellino would finalise a fresh contract for the 2016-17 campaign once United were safe from relegation.
But in a firm rebuke, the Italian told
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Sky: “In the last few weeks he’s been talking too much about his future, about his contract, his players. He has to focus.
“We have players missing and we are in an emergency but instead of complaining you should just focus. But it’s not just about the coach.”
Evans has been head coach at Elland Road for less than five months, appointed in the aftermath of Uwe Rosler’s sacking in October.
United have struggled for form since the turn of the year and Monday’s loss - inflicted by four goals inside the opening 38 minutes - was the club’s heaviest defeat for two years.
Cellino has offered similar public support to previous bosses, only to change his mind rapidly.
David Hockaday was dismissed four days after receiving a vote of confidence from the Italian while Rosler lost his job a fortnight after Cellino said he was “the best person for me and team.”
Cellino, meanwhile, said he had left Brighton at half-time because he was “embarrassed” by Leeds’ performance - but insisted he would not bow to pressure from some of the club’s supporters to sell his majority stake and pass United onto new owners.
Recent protests against Cellino’s management of Leeds have seen an advert calling for his departure erected outside Elland Road’s East Stand and images criticising his reign beamed onto one side of the ground ahead of a goalless draw against Middlesbrough last month.
“The supporters have the right to complain and I have to respect everything,” Cellino said.
“But it’s not easy to walk away when you do something you think is good. I think I’m doing the right thing for the club.
Meanwhile, United’s league schedule has been hit with another change for television.
The club’s trip to Burnley on Saturday, April 9 has been moved to a 12.30pm kick-off after being choise for a live broadcast by Sky Sports.