Leeds United: Evans aiming for best points finish for five years

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IT UNDENIABLY remains a big ‘if’ as to whether Steve Evans leads out Leeds United again after the final two matches of the current Championship campaign.

But one thing that the Scot is acutely conscious of achieving – whether he remains at Elland Road or not beyond the terms of his existing deal – is clinching an accomplishment which given the extenuating circumstances of managing the Whites these days would represent no mean feat.

Steve Evans.

Steve Evans.

Namely steering the club to their highest points tally at this level since the play-off near miss under Simon Grayson five seasons ago in 2010-11, when comparatively speaking, the garden was considerably rosier.

United need four points from games against Charlton and ironically Grayson’s Preston to take them up to 62 points, beating their tally in the past four campaigns.

Leeds’ encouraging four-match unbeaten sequence heading into this afternoon’s final home game of the campaign with relegated Charlton has enabled the club to already pass their points total of the past two seasons, with two matches to go.

Evans clearly wants more, while crossing his fingers that achieving that doesn’t denote his legacy before he is forced to depart for pastures new this summer.

Evans, aware that this afternoon could represent his final match in charge of Leeds at Elland Road, with his deal expiring at the end of this season – and uncertainty abounds surrounding whether Massimo Cellino will retain him – said: “We are still striving for that top-ten Championship finish. Many people thought it was impossible when I said it.

“But we have a real chance and maybe (finishing) even higher. But we only have a real chance of making it significantly higher if we go and deal with Charlton.

“We have a big incentive here. Four points from six gives us the most points since the 2010-11 season and more points than last season and everything saying that things have improved.

“That’s the objective that myself, the staff and the players have got.”

After yet another tough and at times bewildering campaign which has seen Leeds sadly hog the headlines with off-the-field stories as opposed to positive ones regarding affairs on the pitch, Evans also acknowledges the need to send stoical supporters who head to Elland Road this afternoon away with a victory – and not ending the home campaign on an abject and insipid note.

The Glaswegian feels that the very least that the home faithful deserve today is a positive performance and three points in United’s seasonal swansong at Elland Road – even if he is adamant that three points against a beleaguered Charlton side who are destined for League One is no foregone conclusion.

Evans, mindful that Leeds have won just seven league matches at home this term – the same number that they have lost – said: “Elland Road is a special place and I have given players some statistics in the past few days and we are not as successful here as we should be.

“There are a number of contributory reasons for that. Number one is I have been here as an opposition manager and every opposition wants to play at Elland Road and produce a performance and that immediately makes it harder.

“But it is important you finish the season as you want to go into next season and we are in a good run of form.

“The last day of your season to your home supporters is also always an emotional day and I will be reinforcing to the players to thank these people who are the lifeblood of the club and Leeds United.”

Professing surprise at the demise of today’s opponents, he added: “I look at Charlton and I really shake my head when I see a team of that quality, when you break them down individually, as to why they have gone down to League One.

“We have got to make sure we deal with the match with the same determination that we had at Hull and against Wolves and Reading.

“If we do that, I will take what comes at the end of it. But we must have that same application all around or it could be another end-of-season which is not acceptable for this football club.”