Leeds United: Cellino wants to raise the bar

Massimo Cellino.
Massimo Cellino.
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Steve Evans said he left last week’s meeting with Massimo Cellino believing Leeds United’s owner had seen “a lot of good work done” by him – but in no doubt that the club’s head coach will be asked to “raise the bar significantly” next season.

Evans claimed his failure to secure an answer on his future – something United’s boss blamed on him and Cellino running out of time during talks on Friday afternoon – had been softened by complimentary messages from the Italian about his performance in six months as Leeds’ head coach.

The 53-year-old said Cellino “recognised that Paul Raynor and myself had delivered” on targets set for them when they arrived at Elland Road in the aftermath of Uwe Rosler’s sacking in October, principally by keeping United clear of the Championship’s relegation zone.

Friday’s discussions were arranged at short notice by Cellino, with Evans admitting that he “didn’t expect the meeting”, but despite lengthy conversations about the existing playing squad and the summer ahead, Cellino did not confirm whether Evans’ short-term contract would be extended into next season.

Evans, who travelled to watch Walsall’s League One win over Fleetwood Town yesterday, is hopeful of receiving a decision before Leeds’ final league game at Preston North End on Saturday but he said Friday’s conversations had reassured him that Cellino was not ignoring his effort in a tenure which has so far spanned 37 games.

Evans said: “Mr Cellino recognised the good work that’s been done and he recognised that me and (assistant boss) Paul Raynor have delivered on the remit he gave us when we arrived. He also made it clear that that was the minimum he expected.

“At the same time, going forward he’ll expect much more because the bar’s going to get raised significantly. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m ready to do that.”

Comments made by Cellino about Evans after a 4-0 defeat to Brighton in February, and again in a national newspaper interview last month, appeared to imply that he was seriously considering changing head coach for the sixth time since his takeover of Leeds in April 2014.

Evans, who came to Elland Road less than a month after leaving his previous job at Rotherham United, has continued through the final month of the season without any guarantee of a new deal but Cellino appears to be on the verge of making an announcement following Friday’s discussions.