Steve Evans believes Leeds United’s victory over Hull City has set them up for a “massive Christmas” – and remains confident that the club will back him in the January transfer window if results keep their season alive.
United’s head coach said he wanted to give owner Massimo Cellino “a problem” next month by maintaining a consistent run of form which keeps his squad safely amongst a congested pack of mid-table teams.
Leeds, who travel to Charlton Athletic this weekend on the back of an encouraging 2-1 win against Hull, were slipping towards the Championship’s relegation places prior to Saturday’s victory but moved six points clear with a badly-needed result.
A win at The Valley could lift the club nine points above the bottom three and Evans said his players had been given “another chance” after following up back-to-back wins over Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town with frustrating losses to Rotherham United and Queens Park Rangers.
Evans, who has voiced regular support for Cellino at a time when the Italian is being threatened with another Football League ownership ban, said he expected financial support to come his way in January if the Christmas period gave Leeds a realistic chance of pushing for the play-offs.
The club are seven points adrift of sixth place at present and 17th in the table, behind a group of chasing clubs which includes Sheffield Wednesday, Ipswich Town, Reading and Brentford.
Evans, who signed Liam Bridcutt from Sunderland in the emergency loan window but failed with bids for several other targets, said: “We’re set up for a massive Christmas now. I’ve been told by the owner, and I genuinely believe him, that if we give him a problem in January by getting to a position where we can properly look up, he’s ready to support me in every way possible.
“I have to be realistic and say that an owner’s not going to throw money at (this season) in the hope of finishing 12th rather than 15th and I’ve always got a duty to invest sensibly but the motivation above me is there if we can get on a run and get ourselves up the league.
“We had a bad couple of weeks losing to Rotherham and QPR but the win over Hull’s come at the right time and given us another chance to get going. Christmas is going to be massive for us.”
Cellino was informed of the Football League’s intention to ban him for a second time on October 19, the same day that Evans was appointed as head coach in place of the sacked Uwe Rosler. Cellino appealed against his disqualification last month but a date for his hearing has not been announced.
The 59-year-old, who bought a majority stake in Leeds in April 2014, is also believed to be pursuing arbitration via the Football Association under FA Rule K.
Cellino wants the FA to rule that the Football League was wrong to bar him from running United during the second half of last season, thereby negating further attempts by the Football League to disqualify him.
The Football League was asked by the YEP whether the FA’s involvement in the dispute could delay Cellino’s appeal until after the Rule K process is complete, allowing him to remain in control of Leeds in the meantime and potentially beyond the end of this new year. A spokesman for the League said it was “not something we’re able to comment on.”