Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino said he had dispensed with a “gentleman” in Uwe Rosler and employed a “fighter” in Steve Evans after changing head coach for the sixth time in his reign as owner of the Elland Road club.
Evans has agreed a deal to the end of the season and will take charge of Leeds for the first time away at Fulham on Wednesday after Rosler was sacked by Cellino last night.
The German, who signed a two-year contract in May, survived for just 12 games and lost his job in the wake of a 2-1 defeat to Brighton on Saturday.
Leeds’ third successive loss dropped the club to 18th in the Championship table.
Cellino moved immediately to name Evans as Rosler’s successor and the 52-year-old Scot has agreed a contract which gives him the option of remaining in charge for the 2015-16 term.
Evans had been out of work since leaving his post as Rotherham United manager late last month.
Leeds, however, have sacked five bosses in the 18 months since Cellino’s takeover in April 2014 and Evans arrives in the middle of an run of poor form and facing up to the worst home record in United’s history - 11 straight games without a victory.
Rosler won just two of his 12 matches as head coach, taking 11 points from 11 league games.
Amid fresh criticism of his controversial tenure as owner, Cellino told the YEP: “Uwe was a gentleman. Maybe he was the right coach with the wrong team or something like that. I don’t know. But I was going to games with fear and worry because I didn’t like what I saw in the future.
“You have to trust what you’re doing and with Uwe I didn’t anymore. I wasn’t going to look to the sky for miracles. I had to help myself and help the club.
“Steve Evans, he has aggression and he will make this team fight. If you don’t fight you don’t expect to win anything. In too many games and in too many draws we didn’t try to win. We didn’t try enough. I’m not blaming only Uwe. I’m not saying he’s a bad coach. This is my mistake too.”
Evans handled his first training session at Thorp Arch this morning and will take United’s players to London tomorrow ahead of Wednesday’s clash with Fulham.
Paul Raynor, his long-time assistant at Rotherham and Crawley Town, is joining United as Evans’ number two and was also at Thorp Arch today.
Cellino had offered Rosler a firm vote of confidence two weeks ago, speaking out after a 3-0 loss away at Middlesbrough to say: “This coach is the best person for me and for the team. He’s the coach I was looking for when 20, 30 people asked me to give them the job in May.
“I chose him and if you gave me the choice I would choose him again.”
Speaking today, Cellino said: “In the first month the players had confidence. But now they don’t look like they have any. Where did it go? I was worried.
“This team, I think, is better than the results. If they weren’t then it wouldn’t be any fault of the coach but they can play better and they can do better.
“When we played Rotherham (while Evans was manager), they would fight us for everything. He doesn’t care about contracts or anything. He just wanted the opportunity to coach this club.”
Rosler was widely criticised last week for suggesting in a radio interview that his squad were not good enough to compete for promotion from the Championship this season.
The 46-year-old has set a top-10 finish as his target at the start of the campaign.
Cellino appeared to share that view, however, saying recently that “it doesn’t matter if it’s sixth, 10th, 14th, whatever. I only care about seeing this team grow and improve. Next season we will be in a better position for promotion.”
But Cellino criticised the remarks made by Rosler last week, saying: “Why did he say that? You cannot take dreams away from the people.
“I don’t expect promotion this season but everyone dreams of going to the Premier League. If you say you can’t do it then you are telling the players that they are not good enough. That is my view. The players are good players. Results were not good enough. That is all.
“When I said I supported Uwe I meant it. I was sincere and it hurt me to sack him but the situation was bad. I had to make a decision.”