Leeds United have not had a more successful ‘manager’ than Steve Evans since Simon Grayson’s days in charge at Elland Road. Phil Hay examines the statistics surrounding those holding the reins.
Steve Evans’S expectation of finding employment in management next season, be it as head coach of Leeds United or with another club, is partly borne out by the number of jobs available.
The bookmakers have him in the running for the vacancies at Nottingham Forest and Celtic. He is favourite to take charge of Peterborough United after the League One club, the one closest to his family home, sacked Graham Westley on Monday. Evans rates his prospects and said over the weekend that he is “fortunate I don’t have to think ‘how am I going to pay the bills in October’?”
Forest are said to have made an approach to Evans shortly after the Easter weekend and sources in Glasgow believe the 53-year-old is one of a number of coaches who Celtic intend to speak to as they consider a replacement for Ronny Deila. Glasgow-born Evans is a lifelong fan of the club but David Moyes, an ex-Parkhead player, is seen as the leading candidate for that job.
The head coach’s position at Elland Road still carries clout and every time Massimo Cellino moves to fill it with a new face, applications for the job run to hundreds. Even so, it can stall careers, too. Darko Milanic lasted for 32 days under Cellino and then sat on gardening leave for the best part of two years before finally returning to management with Maribor last month. Evans’s predecessor, Uwe Rosler, is still being paid by United and currently out of the game.
Evans, in contrast, has profited from his 36-game reign at Leeds. His salary is not high by the standards of the Championship but his reputation has been strengthened by his handling of a difficult and precarious role. He remains optimistic that if Cellino chooses not to extend his deal, someone north or south of the border will hand him a contract.
As it stands, he has the best win percentage of any United boss since Simon Grayson, the coach who has set the benchmark in Leeds’ post Premiership-years. Evans needs four points from two matches against Charlton and Grayson’s Preston North End to achieve the highest points haul since 2011 and, most likely, the club’s highest league position.
Grayson’s win rate over the duration of his tenure, in League One and the Championship, stands at an impressive 49 per cent. As striking as that is, the tally included 45 losses from 169 competitive fixtures. Grayson thrived in the job but the absence of continuity at Elland Road is revealed by the fact that he and Kevin Blackwell are the two managers to have passed the 100-game mark in the 14 years since United sacked David O’Leary. “This club needs stability,” Evans said last week. “It’s needed it for some time.”
Evans holds a win percentage of 39 per cent after 14 victories from 36 matches. His record is marginally better than that of Brian McDermott, the first manager to work under Cellino and the coach whose Reading team lost at Elland Road 10 days ago, and superior to Neil Warnock’s. Neil Redfearn finished last season with a 33 per cent win rate while Rosler, Milanic and David Hockaday were in the job for too short a time for meaningful analysis. Slovenian Milanic holds the dubious distinction of failing to win any of his six games in charge.
Despite that failed experiment in 2014, there is expectation at Elland Road that Cellino will look for another continental coach if he and Evans part company at the end of this season. Sources at Leeds say Cellino’s preferred choice for the head of recruitment post, left empty by Martyn Glover’s departure to Sunderland earlier this year, is also foreign. Evans met with Cellino late last week but the pair are yet to properly broach the subject of his future, despite the Championship season nearing a conclusion.
“I’ve made it clear that I want to be head coach but other people have to deduce if I’m good enough,” Evans said. “If it’s not for me then I’ll thank everyone here and leave in tears. It’s a great club who I will take to promotion if I’m here next season. It’s easy to say but I’ve got a CV which says I normally deliver that.”
Promises of a promotion campaign next term are difficult to qualify while United’s plans for Evans and for the recruitment of players this summer are so unclear but there is credence in his claim that Leeds have allowed points to slip away in the midst of a run of six wins from 11 games.
A late penalty cost Leeds a 1-0 win at home to Queens Park Rangers three weeks ago and two bad misses by Chris Wood at Burnley contributed to a 1-0 defeat. United were on for a 1-1 draw away at Rotherham United until Giuseppe Bellusci’s late brainstorm drew goalkeeper Marco Silvestri into conceding a penalty and incurring a red card.
“I’m delighted with 10 points from 12,” Evans said, reflecting on Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Hull City. “Any manager would be. But I still get frustrated looking back at Burnley, QPR and Rotherham because those are games we should have taken three points from, based on performance.
“I don’t think there’s any game we’ve won where any neutral would say anything other than we deserved to win. It’s not annoying. I think frustrating would be the word.”
Leeds United manager win percentages:
Simon Grayson: P169 W84 D40 L45 - 49%
Neil Warnock : P63 W23 D15 L25 - 36%
Brian McDermott - P55 W21 D9 L25 - 38%
David Hockaday - P6 W2 D0 L4 - 33%
Darko Milanic - P6 W0 D3 L3 - 0%
Neil Redfearn - P33 W11 D7 L15 - 33%
Uwe Rosler - P12 W2 D6 L4 - 17%
Steve Evans - P36 W14 D11 L11 - 39%
Leeds United’s recent finishing positions:
2010-11 - Pts 72, seventh place
2011-12 - Pts 61, 14th place
2012-13 - Pts 61, 13th place
2013-14 - Pts 57, 15th place
2014-15 - Pts 56, 15th place
2015-16 (after 44 games) - Pts 58, 12th place