Steve Evans talked up his Leeds United record as he prepared to become Massimo Cellino’s longest-serving head coach, saying he had survived in the job because “first and foremost I’m quite good.”
Evans, who is the sixth boss of Cellino’s two-year reign as owner and will come up against the first at Elland Road tomorrow, is set to pass Neil Redfearn’s record of 33 games in charge when Leeds meet Brian McDermott’s Reading. Cellino has worked his way through head coaches rapidly in his time as majority shareholder, dispensing with McDermott little over a month after buying the club in April 2014.
McDermott was followed by David Hockaday, Darko Milanic, Redfearn and Uwe Rosler but Evans has held on to his position since his appointment in October of last year. The 53-year-old is still to learn if a contract which expires in June will be extended into next season but he thanked Cellino for “good backing on one or two dark days”, including after a 4-0 defeat at Brighton in February.
Evans has taken 12 wins from his 33 fixtures as head coach, the most recent a 2-1 victory at Birmingham City on Tuesday, and Leeds are 15th in the Championship. He has repeatedly promised to guide United into a promotion fight next season if Cellino chooses to renew his deal. Asked why he had outlasted so many previous bosses, Evans said: “First and foremost I’m quite good. That would be the main reason. I’ve got a track record that says I get it right. You can’t get it right in a month or two. I’ve had good backing by the president too, on one or two dark days that we’ve had when we’ve lost or been well beaten, but I’ve got good staff and I’ve always managed to put good teams together.
“Head coaches are only as good as their teams. I’m only as good as the players who are here. If I believe we’ll be challenging for promotion next season, if I’m part of Leeds United, then I have to make sure that the playing squad in the summer is good enough. I know what would be expected after what I’ve promised.”
Evans claimed that the arrival of “three or four players” on top of the existing squad would be enough to put Leeds in contention for a top-six finish next season.
“We’ve got a lot of good players here,” Evans said. “Better than many people think. But three or four players is 33 per cent of your team. It makes a big difference.”