Steve Evans has taken a dig at remarks in which Neil Redfearn listed transfer targets given by him to Leeds United last summer, saying: “We can all write wish-lists.”
Evans directed criticism at Redfearn, Leeds’ ex-academy boss who worked as head coach last season, after Redfearn revealed that he was looking to bring Joey Barton, Charlie Adam, Matt Phillips and Jason Shackell to Elland Road before the start of this campaign.
Redfearn said he had given a list of potential signing to former club chairman Andrew Umbers who was put in charge of Leeds while owner Massimo Cellino served a Football League ban during the first half of 2015.
Cellino marked his return from disqualification last May by rapidly naming Uwe Rosler as head coach, rendering Redfearn’s plans defunct, and in a radio interview conducted on Monday, Redfearn said: “I was consulted at the end of the season by Andrew Umbers about possible signings and additions to the side. I came up with a list.
“People like Joey Barton and Jason Shackell and Matty Phillips, that was at QPR, all good players. Adam as well, that (assistant head coach Steve Thompson) knew from Stoke City, Charlie Adam.
“These were all players that were interested. At that time we contacted them through different sources. They were genuinely interested in coming to play for Leeds United, which is not difficult to sell because it’s a top club.”
Barton, however, took to Twitter to deny that he had received any contact from Leeds last summer. The midfielder was out of contract at the time having reached the end of his deal at Queens Park Rangers and later joined Burnley on a free transfer.
Barton tweeted: “Not calling Neil a liar but he never spoke directly to me. Or anyone close to me to the best of my knowledge.”
At a press conference today, staged ahead of United’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at Watford, Evans was again pressed on whether he expected to receive substantial backing from Cellino in the forthcoming summer transfer window having secured only three signings in January.
United’s head coach said: “One hundred per cent. But what I’m not going to do is put a list of players together and give it to the president. If I wanted to write a list of players I’d have Cristiano Ronaldo on it, wouldn’t I? The chance of getting him would be nil.
“We can all write lists and hand it to people but it has to be realistic - people you could feasibly see coming and joining.”
Asked if he was referring to Redfearn’s comments, and if he thought Redfearn’s targets last summer were unrealistic, Evans said: “Possibly with where the club was at that minute in time. With football as it is now, if you’re going to make claims that you’ve spoken to players then the fan base has to believe that and you have to make sure you’re accurate.
“Would Joey Barton have known if his representatives had got a call from Leeds? You would know if you’re Joey Barton. If Leeds pick up the phone, you’d want to know.
“We can all pass wish-lists can’t we? From that point of view we can all write lists and they can be as fantasy as we want them to be. Joey’s a top footballer and if I’d been head coach at Leeds, I wouldn’t have been making a phone call. I’d have been sat at the end of his drive.”
Barton, however, went onto say that “current issues away from the field” at Elland Road - where Cellino is once again facing pressure from sections of Leeds’ support - would have put him off listening to an offer from United.
“Leeds is a huge club and of course if they had stability off the field, it could have been of interest last year,” Barton said.
“But with current issues away from the field, I couldn’t afford to join a club and waste energy on nonsense.”
Evans said he had not seen those quotes and claimed the chances of off-field matters deterring players from joining United in the summer were “none whatsoever.”
“If players get a phone call - ‘do you want to play for Leeds United?’ - then I’m telling you now they get excited,” Evans said.
“I just read that nobody had contacted Joey or his reps so I shake my head. I don’t shake my head at Joey Barton. I would love him.”