Leeds United: D-Day looming on Evans future

Steve Evans and Paul Raynor.
Steve Evans and Paul Raynor.
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Steve Evans expects Massimo Cellino to deliver a decision on his future before Leeds United’s final game of the season on Saturday, despite failing to secure an answer from the Italian in a meeting last week.

Evans will look for more talks with United’s owner in the build-up to the club’s trip to Preston North End having left a discussion with Cellino on Friday without confirmation of whether his contract as head coach would be extended beyond the end of this term.

The Leeds boss said he and Cellino cut short their conversation to allow Evans to travel to the team hotel and prepare for Saturday’s Championship clash with Charlton Athletic, a match United lost 2-1.

Evans claimed Cellino – already onto his sixth head coach in just over two years as owner at Elland Road – would have given him a decision on Friday had they not “genuinely run out of time.”

The Scot, who has been first-team boss since mid-October, took charge of his 37th match on Saturday and potentially his last at home. His short-term contract expires at the end of June.

He addressed the crowd after the final whistle, saying: “If I’m not here, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life. Thank you very much.”

Later Evans refused to admit defeat, insisting his talks with Cellino had been “positive” and saying he had no intention of looking for jobs elsewhere until Leeds confirmed whether he was being replaced.

Cellino has largely kept his counsel on Evans’ future, offering veiled indications that a change is imminent and that he might look for a foreign successor but refusing to confirm his exact intentions with the season still to finish.

Evans said: “I had a very good meeting with the president (on Friday). We didn’t get round to finishing the meeting because I had to leave for the team hotel in preparation for the match.

“There were a lot of constructive and positive things said about myself and (assistant boss) Paul Raynor. I gave the president my views and he gave me his about individual players and collectively what we need. Quite genuinely, we just ran out of time. We’ll probably reconvene sometime this week and then I’ll be getting the decision.

“We were a long way through it but when I went in, I was fairly clear about when I had to leave. It was just the clock that beat us. But I’ve made it absolutely clear that I want to be head coach next season.

“Despite other opportunities, I’ve never opened my ears and said I want to listen to them because I’ve made it clear I want to be here. I can only listen to other things if the board at Leeds decide I’m not the person (for them).”

Cellino has previously changed head coach at the end of both of United’s last two seasons.

Former boss Neil Redfearn was left without a decision this time last year, eventually made aware that he was being removed from the post when the club opened negotiations with Uwe Rosler, but Evans said: “I don’t think I’ll be put in that position.

“I think the president is ready to make his decision.

“I think I would have got that decision (on Friday) but time beat us.

“It was a positive meeting – not all great but we shared thoughts about where the club want to go. It was very thorough and I look forward to the second part. Then I would think Mr Cellino would be ready to make his decision.”

Goals either side of half-time from Charlton’s Johann Berg Gudmundsson and Ademola Lookman condemned Leeds to an eighth home defeat at Elland Road on Saturday, despite a late reply from captain Sol Bamba.