Leeds United: Evans full of sympathy for ousted Chris Powell as derby day looms

Chris Powell and Steve Evans.  Picture: Bruce Rollinson
Chris Powell and Steve Evans. Picture: Bruce Rollinson
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STEVE EVANS says he is saddened but not surprised by the sacking of Huddersfield Town head coach Chris Powell ahead of Saturday’s Championship derby.

The Leeds United head coach is predicting an “outstanding atmosphere” at the John Smith’s Stadium - and only wishes he was taking United’s fans further down the M62 to the ultimate Roses derby at Old Trafford.

Powell was sacked by Huddersfield on Wednesday with the Terriers appointing Jurgen Klopp’s former Borussia Dortmund assistant David Wagner earlier today.

Wagner will sit in the stands for Saturday’s lunch-time clash as Academy manager Mark Lillis takes charge. But while Evans believes a change was unnecessary, he acknowledges Town chairman Dean Hoyle has every right to make his choice.

Hoyle will now hope to see an immediate reaction in this weekend’s Championship derby - but Evans is determined to bring United’s “staggering” fans an important win against local rivals.

“First of all I’d like to say I’m saddened by the news of Chris Powell’s departure and I’ve echoed these thoughts in a message to him,” said Evans.

“I can’t speak too much about the new coach and how they are going to play but I have watched Huddersfield Town on a few occasions and I thought they were all right to be fair!

“I thought they had made big improvements under Chris but they have got a very demanding chairman in Dean Hoyle who has put a lot of money into the football club and he deserves to be able to make the choice that he feels is appropriate.

“It’s sad for one manager but it opens up another opportunity for another who has worked at the highest level.

“But does football surprise us any more? There’s managers coming in and out and from the top end of the game - at FIFA and UEFA level - some of the things that are going on there, you put on the television or put on the radio or read the newspaper and nothing really surprises you any more in this game.

“All I know is that with management, with me and a lot of managers, it’s gone from a real high feeling on a weekend when you win to a feeling of relief and that’s the nature of the industry we are in I’m afraid.”

For tomorrow, 55-year-old former Terriers player Lillis will be Evans’ opposite number but the Whites head coach played down any significance the change in the dugout might mean.

Evans added: “Unless Mark Lillis goes back 50 years, not 30 years, he’s not going to score a goal.

“It’s down to the players. It’s going to be a typical derby, we will take an absolute staggering support across to Huddersfield. I was there last season and I thought the atmosphere the home fans created was outstanding as well. It will be a real derby atmosphere.

“From a Leeds United point of view, the fans going across the short distance on the M62 will probably feel they should be driving a little bit further towards Manchester with the games they have had over the years.

“But we have to stop in Huddersfield, we have to go there and add to what was a good win against a good Cardiff side on Tuesday evening.”