LEEDS UNITED may have been the subject of more unsavoury and plain embarrassing off-the-field headlines this week, but Steve Evans is sure upon one thing.
Namely that for all of the club’s considerable trials and tribulations, with this week seeing former academy education and welfare officer Lucy Ward win her claim for unfair dismissal and sex discrimination – Evans still wholly cherishes his current position as head coach and is desperate to stay on.
Evans, set to pass Neil Redfearn’s record of 33 games in charge in this afternoon’s home game with Brian McDermott’s Reading and become owner Massimo Cellino’s longest-serving head coach, said: “Who wouldn’t want to be head coach of Leeds United?
“Most in football, all bar the elite. I don’t get involved in off-the-field issues; I think I have made that clear since I have come on and said I want to concentrate on what happens on the grass.
“One hundred per cent, my only focus is Reading on Saturday. I do know that the rewards for beating Reading are going into the top half and then we play Wolves at home to be in the top ten.
“That is a big incentive for the dressing room.”
Evans has made no secret on his desire to remain as head coach and while clinching United’s Championship status would enable him to legitimately broach the subject of his future after fulfilling the remit he was brought into achieve in October, his immediate focus will continue to be firmly upon on-pitch matters.
Evans, famously told by Cellino to concentrate on getting results on the pitch and not his future in the wake of the 4-0 loss at Brighton at the end of February, said: “I think when we get mathematical safety, it would allow me to ask a question.
“But my only focus after Saturday, 100 per cent, will be Wolves on Tuesday. Then, diaries permitting, I will speak to the president about next season. I already have questions about pre-season activity and dates and schedules and opposition and such like anyway.
“It’s really about getting in his diary and sitting down with him. But my only focus after Saturday will be Wolves on Tuesday and I can’t not focus on Hull next Saturday. I have spoken before about integrity ahead of the game at Burnley, who are at the top end of this league and how we had to have integrity.
“I spoke to (Middlesbrough head coach) Aitor Karanka who thought we showed that and more when he watched us on television at Burnley and showed that against Birmingham to give respect to Sheffield Wednesday, Cardiff and other teams fighting for the play-offs.
“And we have to show that when we go to Hull on Saturday week. After all that, we have to (hopefully) sit down and speak to the president about the summer and beyond.”
Meanwhile, Evans insists it is currently ‘disrespectful’ to start talking about the futures of loan trio Liam Bridcutt, Muzzy Carayol and Tom Adeyemi and potentially retaining them next term – with the situation to only be addressed at the end of the season.
The Scot added: “First and foremost, it is the decision of the parent club and player. It would be disrespectful to talk about Liam Bridcutt’s future if Sam Allardyce hasn’t discussed it before. I think they are three gifted players and have something to bring to the squad and party. But those decisions, one hundred million per cent, are with Russell (Slade) at Cardiff, Aitor Karanka and Big Sam.
“We will let those coaches be the first factors of when they speak to those players and then we will come into it, if we decide they are part of our future.”