Steve EVans last night claimed he was “100 per cent confident” of mounting a genuine bid for promotion next season – and said he would resign from his job if he failed to put Leeds United in contention.
The club’s head coach spoke out after a quiet end to the January transfer window drew a line under this season’s Championship campaign and provoked criticism of United’s ambition from sections of their support.
Evans admitted to a sense of frustration after he failed to bring a new striker to Elland Road but insisted his squad had improved on the back of deals for Liam Bridcutt, Mustapha Carayol and Toumani Diagouraga, and despite the loss of Sam Byram to West Ham United.
Leeds’ limited business was a sign of an acceptance at Elland Road that a play-off position is beyond the club this season.
United lie 16th in the table, 12 points short of sixth place after Tuesday night’s Championship fixtures.
Evans, who took charge of his 20th match at Bolton Wanderers last weekend and has so far suffered only five defeats as head coach, said he expected owner Massimo Cellino to back him heavily in the summer – and insisted he was so optimistic of being in the running for promotion that he would step aside if Leeds fell short again.
“I want a proper promotion challenge next season,” said Evans, who is on a 12-month rolling contract at Elland Road.
“I’m certain that I’ll get the support I want in the summer so if I can’t get a proper promotion challenge going I won’t be here. Mr Cellino won’t have to sack me because I’ll walk away with no money. I’ll have failed.
“If my signings aren’t good enough, if the results aren’t right then I can’t blame anyone else.
“But I’m saying this because I think we’ll be good enough to compete properly next season. I’m 100 per cent confident we will. I think we have to do that.
“I’ll have had more than half of this season so I can’t go into next season saying ‘we’re going for mid-table or top 10’. That won’t cut it.”