Steve Evans insisted today that Leeds United were not in danger of being left behind with their planning for next season, despite the on-going doubt about his future as head coach.
Evans conceded that a decision about his job would be beneficial “at the earliest opportunity” but said he and United owner Massimo Cellino would be having “a conversation about nothing” until Leeds were officially safe from relegation in the Championship.
United are into the last month of the season and will be on the brink of safety if they beat league leaders Burnley tomorrow and MK Dons, currently third from bottom, lose to Rotherham United.
Evans’ contract runs until June but he has stated repeatedly that a verbal agreement was in place with Cellino for him to stay on as head coach next term, provided he secured United’s status as a Championship club.
With the summer approaching, Evans said planning for the 2016-17 season was “going on behind the scenes” and claimed it was too early in the year for Leeds to be at risk of missing out on potential signings.
He admitted, however, that his own plans for player recruitment would effectively be on hold until Cellino resolved his future as head coach.
Cellino is strongly rumoured to be considering replacing Evans, his sixth head coach in two years as owner. In the past two weeks, Evans is believed to have been contacted by another Championship side – thought to be managerless Nottingham Forest – with a view to taking charge of them next season.
Evans said: “There’s a lot of planning going on behind the scenes. Obviously when it comes to player recruitment, if I wasn’t to be here then people might have a different opinion on that. I wouldn’t wish for someone else to plan my recruitment. That’s not what you want.
“But there’s a lot of hard work going on for pre-season, dates, programmes, opposition and everything that goes around that. The work doesn’t stop. The only thing there has to be is a decision (on his job) by the president. I know how I’d like that to go but sometimes in life you get things you like and things you don’t.
“For me to deliver what I set out to achieve, we have to win some games and win some points. When that happens we can all take abreast of the situation. But there would be no point in me going to the president and having a conversation about nothing because that objective is still there to be achieved.
“When I’ve delivered this club in the Championship next season then it may be a time to speak to the president but that’s diaries permitting. And that’s assuming the president is in a position to make a decision. The earliest possible point would be an accurate assessment but as manager of any club I know, you never call time on what your chairman, president or board should do. They’ll set the timescales and you work with in them.”
Leeds have made little impression on the upper end of the Championship this season and are 19 points behind the division’s play-off zone with seven games remaining.
Evans said: “We do need to bring in quality and that will arrive. I hope I’ll be responsible for doing that.
“But it’s a little bit early for players to be deciding where they’re going to be and what they’re going to do. There’s much still to be played for. We have to just remained focused on the football.
“If we win on Saturday I’ll celebrate with a nice glass of wine. I’m overdue one. The last one was in December. We’ve only really got the focus of going to play Burnley.”